Growing With God

Miss Sims taught the third grade Sunday school class. One morning she was struggling to teach them the importance of cleanliness – personal cleanliness and Godly cleanliness. She spent a considerable amount of time in her effort to compare germs and bacteria to disobedience and sin.

After going to great lengths to make what she thought was a good comparison she asked her class, “Cleanliness is next to what?”

“Impossible!” shouted Blair.

What an honest answer! So many of us seem to have a difficult time trying to survive the temptations of life. We read God’s Word, understand His expectations, and ask Him to keep us from sin. Then, just when we think we have life under control – it happens once again. The power of temptation is greater than our faith in God and we fall into sin. Living a godly life does seem next to impossible.

In Psalm 71 the author writes, “You will restore my life once again.” Though we fail He will not forsake us. If we fall, He will lift us. Any time and every time. There is no limit to the grace of God for those who love Him, seek His guidance and look to Him for His cleansing.

God offers us the presence and power of the risen Christ to face the temptations of life. And He offers us His strength – which can never be exhausted. He offers us His love – which endures forever. He offers us His salvation – which can never be taken from us. And He offers us His forgiveness – which continually restores us.

Prayer:  How grateful we are, Father, that Your mercy does not depend on our goodness but on Your love and grace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today:  In your righteousness, rescue me and deliver me; turn your ear to me and save me. Psalm 71:2 

I Need You Right Now, God!

Someone has called this Psalm an “Arrow Prayer.” David was in a life-threatening situation and needed help. There was no time for flowery words or trite phrases. It was now or never: If God did not respond immediately, it would be all over for him. He was frightened!

And because of the urgency of this situation, there are different ways to describe his immediate need: “Hasten, Lord; Please God, come quickly; Please God, rescue me right now; Come quickly, Lord, and help me!”

At the time David offered this prayer there were some who were trying to kill him, humiliate him, put him to shame and rejoice over the problems he was facing. Some of his closest friends threatened to destroy him. He was disappointed. He felt empty and forsaken. Those whom he had trusted betrayed him and those whom he had helped turned against him. This happens to us all.

David felt empty, broken, alone and forgotten by everyone but his Lord. So, he did what he always did: he turned to God during a critical life-crisis and begged for immediate assistance. He knew that God alone could and would help him, save him, sustain him and shield him from harm. We, too, often do the same.

But in the midst of his cry for help, David did as he always did: he praised God. Tucked away in the middle of this “Arrow Prayer” David said, “May those who long for Your saving help always say, ‘The Lord is Great.’”

What a wonderful lesson for each of us. When we face moments of distress let us never forget that God will deliver us!

Prayer:  Lord, may we always remember to praise You for Your grace and goodness even when our faith is weak. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today:  Hasten, O God, to save me; come quickly, Lord, to help me. Psalm 70:1

The Right Time

David did not have a calm and quiet life. It was a life that was filled with trials and tragedies, anxieties and anguish. He had moments of ecstasy followed by days of despair. He was honest with God and willing to admit his mistakes. Yet, he lived with the fact that forgiveness does not remove the consequences of sin.

In Psalm 69 David cries out to God to “Save me, O God for the waters have come up to my neck.” And that was just the beginning of his list of problems. Listen to his prayer: “I am sinking to the depths of the mire...I am in deep waters and floods are overwhelming me...I am worn out in calling to You for eyes fail because they cannot see You, O God, and I am forced to restore what I did not steal!” Could things be any worse?

The easy way out would have been for him to give up on God. He even said, “You, God know my folly and my guilt is not hidden from You.” Why care for me, God?

Why not cave in, David? Why not give up? Time after time you willingly made a mess of your life. God owes you nothing and now you are getting what you deserve!

But David did not give up on himself or God. He knew God loved him in spite of his wrong doings. So he prayed, “In the time of Your favor, in Your great love answer me with Your salvation!” My life is in Your hands!

David was often beaten down. But his faith always lifted him up. In spite of his sins and short comings he knew that God would not abandon him. God’s love is as eternal as He is.

Life is never hopeless as long as our hope is in God.

Prayer:  Lord, give us patience as we place our hope in You to deliver us from any problem that would destroy us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today:  In the time of Your favor, in Your great love answer me with Your salvation. Psalm 69:13 

A Sure Source Of Strength

Are we failures if we fail or do we fail because we are failures?

All of us fail at one time or another or at one task or another. Not because we do not try – because trying is not the problem. It is because we do not make use of the help – or power – that’s available to us from God. God is ready to help us whenever we call upon Him. There are no preconditions.

Sometimes I think that David must have faced more problems than any other person in the Bible. But he knew what to do and where to go when things were about to destroy him. There were times when he was weak from suffering. There were days when doing what God called him to do caused some serious difficulties for him. When he faced these challenges, he knew where to go and what to do!

“Summon Your power, God; show us Your strength, God, as You have done before.”

God provides His strength when we suffer. Paul had no easy life. His life often seemed to go from bad to worse. But God said, “Paul, my grace will be sufficient for every problem you will ever face, my Son’s presence in every cell you occupy and My healing each time you are beaten.”

He gives us strength when He calls us to serve Him. An elderly lady was asked, “Where do you get all of your energy to help so many people?” “Well,” she said, “the first thing I do in the morning is to connect with God’s power through my time of prayer. As I put my hand in God’s hand, I can feel His strength pass into me. Then I can do whatever it is He leads me to do in His name!”

Prayer:  Help us, Lord, to believe that no matter what problems we face we can do all things through Your power. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Summon Your power, God; show us Your strength, God, as You have done before. Psalm 68:28 

Escaping Death

“The one inescapable fact of life is death. Yet, man usually refuses to face it,” wrote a psychologist recently. Then he quoted La Rochefoucauld, who said, “One cannot focus on either the sun or death for any length of time.”

But the Psalmist looked at death differently: “Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign Lord comes escape from death!”

Our God, through His Son Jesus Christ, not only saves and delivers us from sin and its consequences in this life but also after death. Salvation, for example, does not assure us of a life of prosperity and worldly success, a life free from sickness and suffering, a life that has no stress or conflict, a life that is all sunshine and no showers. But we do have the assurance of God’s forgiveness and the freedom from the law and its curse, from judgment and fear and guilt and certainly death.

And we do have the assurance of Christ’s presence in our lives that promises us that “He will never leave us nor forsake us,” be with us when we are sick and suffer, will give us His peace “that passes all understanding” when we are stressed and threatened by the challenges of life.

But ultimately and finally “from the Lord comes (our) escape from death.” Escape literally means exit. As Christians we can, with David, be assured that while there are many entrances to death – or many ways that we might die – our exit from death has been provided by God’s grace through Jesus Christ, our Savior.

This exit from death, however, is also our entrance into heaven.

Prayer:  Thank You, Heavenly Father, for saving us and giving us peace and hope and the assurance of eternal life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today:  Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign Lord comes escape from death. Psalm 68:20 

Daily Deliverance

 A preacher was complaining to a close friend, “Oh my, I have so many burdens to bear on behalf of others that I am ready to give up!”

“I am so very sorry,” replied his friend. “But wait until you hear what I discovered this morning. David left me a note in the Psalms that said, ‘Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.’ Why don’t you share them with the Lord rather than trying to carry the load by yourself?”

Often we feel crushed with the cares of life. There are times when we dwell on our defeats. We sometimes assume that our grief is so great that it will be with us for a lifetime. We expect to be overwhelmed with life’s obstacles and even want to hang on to past failures and seem to take pride when life is unfair.

Could it be that we take pleasure in thinking we have more problems than anyone else in the world? Do we want to be known for having the longest list of unanswered prayers or for being forgotten and forsaken by God? Is it possible that we might even take great pleasure for what we do not have so we can be constant complainers?

Or do we need to change our view of God?

Remember the words of the Psalmist. “Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior,” said David, “who daily bears our burdens!” Peter put it this way: “Cast all your cares upon Him because He cares for You.” And Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” We can “cast or carry” – be “burdened or blest.”

Prayer:  It’s really up to us, Lord. Either we take You at Your Word or reject Your offer to bear our burdens. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today:  Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. Psalm 68:19

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Announce The Word!

Years ago someone took a chisel and carved an image into a piece of wood. Then they took some dye, placed it on the raised image, and pressed it on a piece of parchment. Some believe that this was the day that printing was born.

In A.D. 779 the Chinese carved words and pictures by hand and invented “wood block printing.” Years later however, Johannes Gutenberg, a man from Germany, invented a machine with moveable type and called it a “printing press.”

It is not possible to estimate the power of the printed page. It has brought knowledge and insight since the fifteenth century. It has also corrupted minds and been used to lead people into paths of destruction.

Napoleon once said, “There are only two powers in the world: the sword and the pen, and in the end, the former is always conquered by the latter.”

Benjamin Franklin said, “Give me twenty-six lead soldiers and I will conquer the world.”

G. Christian Weiss, a missionary-statesman wrote, “The battle for the men’s minds will be won by the printer’s ink. Make no mistake about it!”

Many years ago David wrote, “The Lord announced the Word.”

Christians have no greater responsibility or obligation than to “announce” the Word of the Lord. Wherever we are and no matter what we are doing we must constantly and consciously “announce the Word” to the world.

Prayer:  Help us to be faithful, Lord, to “announce” the Word in and through our lives whether by word or deed. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: The Lord announces the word. Psalm 68:11a 

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To Protect And To Provide

A biographer once wrote of Christopher Columbus that “He discovered no island or sea as lonely as himself.”

How different for those who trust God!

David wrote, “When You, God, went out before Your people, when You marched through the wilderness...You provided for the poor!”

The writer of Hebrews echoed those words when he wrote of the risen Christ, “I will never leave you nor ever forsake you.”

King Nebuchadnezzar refused to hear the testimony of three young men. He bound them and threw them into a fiery furnace. In amazement, when he looked into the furnace he did not see three men, but four: unharmed and unbound. He shouted, “Servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!” God went before them, protected them and rescued them.

On one occasion the disciples of Jesus were frightened by the winds and the waves that were threatening them. They were in a little boat with little hope. Then Jesus appeared and said, “Take courage. Don’t be afraid. It is I!” He went to them, calmed their fears and then said, “You of little faith. Why did you doubt?”

A Psalmist was traveling through a deep valley with dark shadows. He was filled with great fear as he faced the “unknown.” Yet, he was able to say, “I will fear no evil, for You are with me. Your rod and Your staff will comfort me!” He trusted God because he knew God would never abandon him.

The Lord always goes before us to protect us. He will provide for everything we need now and through eternity.

Prayer:  Thank You, God, for assuring us that we do not face the threats of life alone. Thank You for Your protection. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today:  When You, God, went out before Your people, when You marched through the wilderness...You provided for the poor. Psalm 68:7 & 10b

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Destination And Direction

It was the end of our summer break, and my roommate and I were returning for our final year in seminary.

After driving several miles I asked, “Fritz, why is the sun shining in our eyes when we are supposed to be going west?”

Suddenly he realized that instead of turning right at the end of our driveway, he had turned left, and we were going east and not west. Realizing our mistake, we laughed at ourselves, turned the car around and headed in the right direction.

No one can travel in the wrong direction and expect to reach the right destination. A wise Psalmist once wrote, “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face to shine on us so that Your ways may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations.”

God has made His ways known through Jesus Christ, His Son who said, “I am the way!” Every person on earth is going “somewhere” but if they refuse His “where” they will end up “nowhere” and spend eternity in hell.

Some of those we know are traveling the “Religion Roadway.” They have respect for what is sacred but have not accepted God’s Son as their Savior and made Him their Lord. They are depending on “something” to get them “somewhere” in life but do not know that there is “Someone” who can save them and give them eternal life.

Everyone we know is on their way going somewhere depending on something to get them some place. But it is our responsibility to show them the right way – His way!

Prayer:  Father, may we accept our responsibility as Your disciples to present the right “Way” to those who are lost. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face to shine on us so that Your ways may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations. Psalm 67:1-2 

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"Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep..."

One night before climbing into bed, Brad knelt with his mother to pray. “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray Thee Lord, my soul to keep; if I should die before I wake...” There was a long pause and suddenly he stopped praying.

“Go on,” said his mother, gently encouraging him.

“I can’t,” he cried and ran from the room.

A few moments later he returned and finished the prayer, “I pray Thee Lord my soul to take.”

“What happened?” his Mother asked.

“Well,” he confessed, “just before we knelt to pray, I went into James’ room and took all of his toy soldiers and hid them. Then I hid his tanks, cannons and trucks so he couldn’t see them. And after I started to pray, I had to stop and make everything right because I knew that God wouldn’t hear me.”

Many times we pray and get no answers. Often we think that God is not willing to hear us or unable to help us. But that is not true.

We cannot knowingly have sin in our hearts and lives and go to God and expect Him to answer our prayers. If we expect God to hear and answer our prayers, we must make things right first.

Said the Psalmist, “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.” It is only when we willingly confess and forsake our sins that we can expect God to answer our prayers. It may be time to stop in the middle of a prayer, right some wrongs and then pray. God is always able to answer our prayers, but not willing because of sin!

Prayer:  Help us, Lord, to accept the fact that we cannot expect You to answer our prayers if we keep sin in our lives. May we confess our sins first, and then pray! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. Psalm 66:18 

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Triumph Through Tragedy

A fierce tornado destroyed his home. Finally, when the rains stopped and floods subsided, he returned to look at the damage. All he had once valued and worked for was destroyed. His home was gone. His belongings were washed away. There was little more than the foundation and piles of rubble.

But as he stood at the site, dazed and discouraged, he noticed something shining in the midst of a pile of debris. As he looked closely at the glimmering object, he discovered it was a large piece of gold bullion. He did his best to find the owner but to no avail. No one knew where the gold came from or who it belonged to.

After waiting for weeks for an owner to come identify the gold, he was told by his attorney and the police department to keep what he had found. What the flood destroyed and took from him also brought him wealth.

Many of us have stories that are similar to this one. What we once viewed as a tragedy turned into a triumph. What we once believed was a trial and time of testing eventually turned into a gracious gift of God’s grace as He protected us from being destroyed by the Enemy.

Beethoven, the great musician, lost his hearing but became a great composer and his music still lives. John Bunyan was thrown into prison and forgotten for years. But through his adversity he glorified God by writing Pilgrim’s Progress. Fanny Crosby lost her sight but wrote over 6,000 Christian songs that we continue to sing.

“We went through fire and water,” wrote the Psalmist, “but you brought us to a place of abundance!”

Prayer:  Enable us, Father, to trust in the wisdom of the plan You have designed for each of our lives. As we walk through the valleys of life, stand with us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: We went through fire and flood, but you brought us to a place of great abundance. Psalm 66:12 

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He Rules Forever

He who created all things rules everything! Kingdoms that were once great and powerful can no longer be found on a map. Nations that were once feared and wealthy are now weak and impoverished. Countries that once were respected are now looked upon as failures.

God has been, is, and always will be the Creator-Ruler.

His sovereignty began when the universe began and kingdoms, nations, and countries came into existence according to His divine plan. He reigned before time began and will continue to reign even when clocks cease to tick. “He rules forever by His power.”

His eyes are never closed as He watches over every nation and individual. Deeds that show compassion and deeds that are cruel do not escape His careful observation. Though He is invisible to us, nations are not invisible to Him. He is aware of every citizen in every country and carefully records the actions of the rulers and leaders. “His eyes watch the nations,” wrote the Psalmist.

The rebellious and unrighteous, the godless and the god-restricting will not escape His judgment. No nation has ever succeeded when they have rebelled against God, His laws or His truth. Nations sin, people sin and God warns them and waits for them to repent.

If they repent He spares His judgment and voids the punishment that is rightfully theirs because of their wrong-doing and unrighteousness. But when nations continue to sin, they will collapse from within or be destroyed from without.

Only nations who have honored God have survived.

Prayer:  We pray, Father, that our nation will repent and return to our heritage that once followed Your Word. If ever we need You as our Lord, it is now! Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: For by his great power he rules forever. He watches every movement of the nations; let no rebel rise in defiance. Psalm 66:7 

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The God Who Can

God often brings a difficult situation into our lives so He can turn it into a delightful memory so that we can remind ourselves of His love and mercy. Often when we face an impossible dilemma, He turns it into a blessing that will provide a story of His incredible power that we can share with our children. There are times when He turns overwhelming obstacles into great opportunities to demonstrate His power and terrible times and trials into triumphs and testimonies of His strength that we can share with others.

David wanted to remind the children of God about the greatness of God and wrote, “He turned the sea into dry land (and) they passed through the waters on foot – come let us rejoice in Him!”

The children of Israel were on their way to the Promised Land. When they came to the coast, they made their camp. Suddenly they turned around and saw their enemy coming to destroy them. Before them was the sea. Behind them was their enemy. When they looked at their options, they came to the conclusion that they would either drown or be destroyed. At that moment, they could not see God. But God was there as He always is.

And as He was with them, so is He is with us! God is always between His children and the catastrophes of life. He never abandons us when we face the difficult decisions or demands of life.

If God could turn the sea into dry land and if the children of Israel were able to pass through the waters on foot, He can do the same for us today. With problems before us and troubles and trials behind us He can – and will - deliver us.

Prayer:  Give us a faith, Father that will overcome every fear we face. May our trust in You grow as we see You at work in our world. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Scripture For Today: He made a dry path through the Red Sea, and his people went across on foot. There we rejoiced in him. Psalm 66:6 

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Evidence And Facts!

“Take nothing on its looks. Take everything on evidence. There’s no better rule!” wrote Charles Dickens in Great Expectations.

Years later, a fictional detective, Sgt. Joe Friday became famous for the phrase, “Just the facts, Ma’am. All I want are the facts.” If there were no facts, there could be no reliable evidence.

“Shout for joy to God, all the earth...Say to God, ‘How awesome are Your deeds! So great is Your power...All the earth bows down to You,’” wrote David.

Everywhere David looked, he could see God’s “awesome deeds.” And these “deeds” provided all the “evidence” he, and those who met with him in worship, needed to have to believe in the God of Israel.

These “awesome deeds” can be seen in His story: God judging and punishing those who were disobedient to Him; those who broke His laws and disregarded and disobeyed His commandments. They paid the price. His story also includes examples of His countless blessings and unending love, mercy and grace that He graciously, lavishly, and lovingly blest those who trusted and obeyed Him. He protected them and provided for their every need as long as they were obedient to His Word. And He still does that today.

The Bible contains all of the evidence that is needed for us to see the “awesome deeds” of God. In His story He gives us “evidence” and “facts” that are undeniable.

Christian faith is a faith established on facts that cannot be denied. With David we can “Shout for joy!”

Prayer:  Lord, open our eyes to see Your mighty acts of strength and power, Your gifts and goodness, and shout for joy as we worship You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! Your enemies cringe before your mighty power. Psalm 66:3 

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What Size God Do You Worship?

Some years ago, J.B. Phillips wrote a compelling book entitled, Your God Is Too Small. Most of the world was startled by its title. What could he mean that the Creator of heaven and earth and everything in it and on it could possibly be too small?

His purpose was to expose those of us who did not believe that our God was big enough or wise enough or powerful enough or compassionate enough or even willing to solve the problems of the world. Surely, he reasoned if He was, and if we who called Him Lord, had enough confidence in Him and concern for the world’s issues, we could expect Him to do something about them if we prevailed in prayer.

Sometimes we picture God as though He were Lincoln sitting in an armchair looking out into the distance from His perch in Washington. Other times we picture Him with a flowing white beard having no place to sit as He floats around the universe. Some picture Him peeking over a cloud looking at the “mess” He created and wondering what to do.

Psalm 65 sees God as the Creator of all things and the One to whom all things – great and small, big or little, important or insignificant – belong. Additionally, He sustains His creation by His constant involvement in everything: from falling rains to the harvesting of grain.

But it does not end there: He is not only the Creator-Sustainer, He is the Redeemer-Restorer. One day, He will reclaim His universe and make all things new!

Prayer:  Lord, increase our faith to exceed the size of our problems. May we believe, as well as know, that You can do the impossible. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: You faithfully answer our prayers with awesome deeds, O God our savior. You are the hope of everyone on earth, even those who sail on distant seas. Psalm 65:5 

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Have Mercy!

When we are offended by another person, we have four options: we can pout like a spoiled child, pity ourselves, take it out on someone else, or pray.

When we pout, we pollute ourselves with the poison of displeasure. It’s like pouring a teaspoonful of black dye into a glass of pure water and watching the darkness destroy what was pristine. It ruins the beauty that light brings to life. Pouting brings distress into our lives - not deliverance from an insult or problem.

When we pity ourselves, we are simply poisoning ourselves. Self-pity distorts our thinking, disrupts our work, disturbs our body, and even disfigures our face with wrinkles. It depresses our friends, demoralizes our life, and above all, dishonors our Lord.

When we take our hurt out on others, it not only pains them, but will come right back to pain us as well - and eventually punish us in one way or another. Revenge is like a boomerang: Although it flies into the path of the other person, it will eventually come back to attack us in the process. It can hit the one who threw it with the heaviest blow.

When we pray, we protect ourselves and place the responsibility for “settling the score” up to God. We are God’s children and what offends us offends Him; what hurts us will hurt Him, and what affects us has already affected Him. He understands our pain and our sorrow.

The Psalmist expresses this in a beautiful way: “I cried unto the Lord, and He heard me.” God will always take care of us, remove the sadness from our hearts, erase the insults from our memory, and bring His healing. When we pray, He makes things right!

Prayer:  Father, when we have been injured or insulted by the ways and words of others, may we look to You for Your healing – both them and us! In Jesus’ Name, Amen! 

Scripture For Today: Though we are overwhelmed by our sins, you forgive them all. Psalm 65:3 

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The Triumphant Tongue

A Greek philosopher asked his attendant to prepare a dinner for his closest friends. He advised him to “prepare your best meal for my distinguished guests.”

On the day before the banquet, he asked, “What are you going to serve my friends?”

“Tongue,” he replied.

With curiosity he asked, “Why tongue?”

“Well, my lord, tongue is my best meal. With it we may bring happiness, dispel sorrow, remove despair and inspire others,” he said quietly.

A few days later the philosopher went again to his attendant and said, “I want you to prepare your worst meal for my guests next week.”

On the day before the banquet, he asked the same question, “What are you going to serve my guests?”

“Tongue,” was the reply.

“Tongue?” he asked in amazement. “You said that tongue was your best meal. Now it’s your worst.”

“Yes,” said the attendant. “With the tongue we break hearts, destroy reputations, promote discord and begin wars.”

David said, “The righteous will ‘use their tongues’ to rejoice in the Lord and take refuge in Him. All the upright in heart will glory in Him.”

James said, “No human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”

The tongue: It can be used to honor, praise, and glorify God or used to destroy others.

Prayer:  What a power we have in our tongues, Lord. Help us to use them wisely to speak Your love to others and praise Your name and rejoice in Your greatness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: The righteous shall be glad in the Lord, and trust in Him. And all the upright in heart shall glory. Psalm 64:10 

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Follow The Leader!

Getting lost is something that comes naturally to me. At times I feel as though I was born with no sense of direction or the ability to use a compass.

Once, while driving my sons to a birthday party, they could sense I didn’t know where I was going. As I stared at the slip of paper in my hand that contained an address, I had a blank look on my face as I looked from side to side not knowing which way to turn. I was at a four-way stop sign, not knowing what to do next. My youngest son said, “Are we lost yet, Dad?” He knew if I wasn’t, I soon would be. His confidence in me was inspiring!

Fortunately, a police officer on a motorcycle saw me looking at the piece of paper and offered to help me. With compassion he asked, “May I help you, Sir?” Of course, I said, “Please,” and with a great sigh of relief gave him the address of the party. He gave me careful and complete instructions. Then, looking at me and realizing I had no idea what he was talking about, said with great compassion, “Never mind. Follow me, I’ll get you there.”

And it worked. In a few moments I looked at the name and address on the mailbox and knew that I had arrived at my destination safely.

In the maze of life with its constant confusion and complex choices we often need help. David said, “I cling to You; Your right hand upholds me.” Jesus, realizing our lost condition said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. Follow me.”

God keeps those safe who look to Him for His directions.

Prayer:  Thank You, Lord, for the directions we find in Your Word that provide us a map for life’s journey. May we follow You always and be secure in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today:  I cling to you; your strong right hand holds me securely. Psalm 63:8 

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Promises! Promises!

He spent many years living alone not having the necessities of life. One day in his despair he looked at the top shelf of an old bookcase cluttered with pictures and the mementos of his life. As his eyes passed from item to item, he noticed his mother’s Bible that he had not touched since her death.

Slowly, he opened the well-worn Book and very carefully began to leaf through its pages. As he made his way through Genesis, he found $1,000.00. He did the same with Exodus and found another $1,000.00. His excitement grew as he went from book to book and found $1,000.00 in each one of them.

Imagine having $66,000 within arm’s reach and not even knowing it was there, waiting to be discovered. We may fault the old man for living in poverty when it was unnecessary, and riches were available. We might say, “How sad! Why didn’t he look sooner?”

But, sadder than the fact that the money was in his mother's Bible waiting for him to discover is the fact that there are 3,573 promises in the Bible waiting for us to discover and claim. Our good and gracious God placed them there for each of us. Yet, most of us do not know where to find any of them, and they go unclaimed.

The Psalmist said, “My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promises preserve my life.” Each promise is a benefit God has placed in His Word waiting for us to claim. Jesus addressed this same issue when He said, “For everyone who asks receives.” Don’t go without!

Prayer:  The best things in life, Father, can be ours for the asking. May we understand Your promises so that we may claim what is ours through Christ. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today:  I cling to you; your strong right hand holds me securely. Psalm 63:8 

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The Satisfied Soul

Saint Augustine is well known for his oft quoted saying, “You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in You.” His only desire was to know God intimately and worship Him faithfully.

One of God’s greatest gifts is the incompleteness we feel and the insecurity we sense until we allow Him to make us complete in Christ. The emptiness we feel and the desire we have for “something more” seems to come with every beat of our hearts.

Often this longing is never realized unless God forces us into a corner or shuts us in a dark room. Recently a friend said, “The best thing that ever happened to me was to be diagnosed with cancer. It stopped me short and made me realize that everything I thought would bring me peace and satisfaction was an illusion. None of my accomplishments mattered any more nor could any of the wealth I accumulated purchase any peace. My cancer made me realize that everything I had could not be exchanged for one simple heart beat or a breath that would extend my life!”

Often it takes a serious illness or other tragedy in life to force us to face the reality of our helplessness, hopeless and emptiness. Many times we think that our “business” in church activities will bring us peace when we face the uncertainties of life. Not so!

When David faced a spiritual collapse he knew exactly what to do and where to go and Who had the solution: “My soul thirsts for You; my body longs for You.”

Prayer:  How grateful we are, Father that You care for us so much that You programmed our hearts to give us no rest until we rest in You. Thank You! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: My soul thirsts for You; my body longs for You. Psalm 63:1b 

Seekers - Finders

Nicolaus Copernicus was the first astrologer to say that the sun was at the center of the universe. He has received great acclaim for that observation. He also said that “if the first button of your coat is buttoned wrong, all the rest will be out of place.” Same person, two dramatically different observations. However, few have ever heard of his observation about what happens when you button a coat improperly.

“O God,” said David, “You are my God. Earnestly I seek You.” Much like buttoning a coat, if we begin a day earnestly seeking God, everything will end up as it should.

Each day we live is a new gift from God and a new adventure to live. It leads us on paths that we have never walked before and brings sights to our eyes and sounds to our ears that we have never experienced before. For every day to be God-honoring and Christ-exalting, it is essential that we begin it with the Lord in prayer and in reading His Word. If we want Him to guide us and guard us and keep us from troubles and temptation, we must go to Him in faith, believing that He will protect us.

“Earnestly seeking Him” means that our faith is not a past-time, part-time, some-time “thing” in our life. Copernicus, you will recall, recognized that the sun was the center of the universe, and every planet revolved around it. If God is not at the center of our lives, our universe, we cannot expect to live in peace and harmony, balance and control.

God promised that “He will never leave us nor forsake us.” Unfortunately, it is us who leave and forsake Him.

Prayer:  Father, may we understand the importance of beginning each day with You and asking for Your guidance. May we rely on You, not ourselves. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today:  O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. Psalm 63:1a

The Reality Of God's Rewards

What words best “describe” God? Are there some that are more precise, or accurate, or complete to use when we talk about Him? Is it more appropriate to use some words and not others to describe Him?

Throughout the Psalms, from beginning to end, David uses many different words to describe the various acts of God. While some of them are “high and lofty,” most of them are practical and helpful, descriptive and insightful. He speaks of God as his deliverer, protector, friend, savior, refuge, and stronghold. All words we could observe if we were to see God walking along a path with David.

In bringing Psalm 62 to a conclusion he speaks of his relationship with God as “strong” and “loving.” He had experienced God’s compassion and care, protection and presence and power – as we have. He also enjoyed God’s love, grace and mercy as we, too, have. And then he adds something that is most interesting: “You reward everyone according to what they have done.”

David enjoyed God’s goodness. He mentions it again and again. He spoke often of those who wanted to kill him, defeat him, steal from him, embarrass him and even ruin his reputation. But through it all he survived and prospered. He was deeply grateful for the mercy and grace of God and recognized them as “God’s reward” for his faithfulness in spite of his failures.

David speaks bluntly of those who are evil and do evil things to harm and hurt His beloved. They will not endure. But the righteous will be rewarded lavishly.

Prayer:  Thank You, Father, for rewarding us with so many of Your extravagant gifts that we take for granted. Plant a seed of gratitude in our hearts! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Unfailing love, O Lord, is yours. Surely you repay all people according to what they have done. Psalm 62:12

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True Power And Mercy

 “God has spoken once.” Then it seems as if he thought for a moment and then corrected himself. “No,” he said, “Twice I have heard this: That power belongs to God!” God had spoken a second time directly to him, but it seems as though he had forgotten about it. That is the value of waiting in silence before God: we can recall His past blessings. When we are patient, we allow God to do His work in our lives and give us His directions!

David was surrounded by false gods and idols. But there was a dramatic difference between his God and the gods of those who did not worship the living God. David’s God, the one true living God, addressed David and His chosen people in words, visions, dreams, angelic visitations and finally in and through His incarnate Son, Jesus.

The fact that God speaks directly to us is a basic difference between Himself and idols. David made a simple, straightforward, significant statement: “...You, O God are strong...You, O God are loving.” David drew a clear distinction between his God and other gods. His God was involved in His life and the lives of His people in guiding and guarding them, in protecting and providing for them.

We could never enjoy or understand, recognize or appreciate the love of God if He did not demonstrate His power, strength, and might. We see His strength and faithfulness in the many victories He gave David over his foes. We can understand the depth of His love and mercy when He forgave David for his sins. And, what He did for David He will do for all who love Him and accept His salvation.

Prayer:  You are mighty, Lord, not only when You defeat powerful enemies, but when You forgave our sins. Help us to realize all that is ours through You! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today:  God has spoken once, Twice I have heard this: That power belongs to God. Psalm 62:11b-12a 

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Give Up? Why Not!

People are like weather reports: they change frequently and are not always reliable. Over the years the prescription for predicting the weather has changed dramatically. Now, when weather persons make their reports, it is usually in “percentages.” They are always correct because they leave room for variations in their predictions as to what may or may not happen.

God is not that way. If He declares it, we can depend on it. “Trust in Him,” said David. We have all trusted in family and friends only to be disappointed. Not that they intended to deceive us intentionally or disrupt our lives on purpose, it’s just that they are as human as we are and have the potential as well as the probability to be wrong. “People are still people,” Dean Edwards often said. “They are as human today as they were in Eden.”

Our ability to trust, however, fluctuates. It seems to come and go depending on the situation. That’s why David added “at all times.” Our trust in God is to be constant and continual, not casual and conditional. Some of us have a fair-weather faith. If we do not get the answers we want when we want them, we usually rely on our own strengths and strategies, and the results are usually second best rather than God’s best.

We prove to Him that we trust in Him when we pour our hearts out to Him in faith believing that we can trust Him! It’s like emptying a jar of water by turning it upside down and letting every drop fall to the ground. Letting the last drop fall to the ground is tough but necessary if we are to “let go and let God” prove the power of faith and trust.

Prayer:  Lord, give us courage to trust in You at all times for all things in all situations without hesitancy. May we learn the value to trust only in You! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today:  Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Psalm 62:8

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Willing to Wait

A pastor decided to change the order of service. He convinced himself that his congregation was bored and disinterested in his messages because they had been following the same format for several years.

For years the ushers would take up the offering, the choir would sing and then he would preach. To “mix” things up he decided that he would have the choir sing, then he would preach and the ushers would take up the offering at the close of the service.

Little Janie sat quietly through a particularly boring message. Finally, realizing that something was different, she whispered to her Mom, “Do you think if we paid him now he would quit?”

Waiting is often difficult. We pray from a deep reservoir of faith believing that God is anxiously waiting to hear and answer our prayers. Sometimes the answers come quickly. Other times we do not understand the delay and lose heart and hope. We may even wonder if God is deaf to our requests.

Sometimes physicians give us a prescription with a bit of advice: “Now I assure you that this medication will work. But you are going to have to wait a few days before you are relieved of all of your symptoms. Be patient.”

“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him,” said David. He was able to rest in God because of God’s faithfulness to him in the past. He had been deeply disappointed by many others but never by his Lord who always protected and defended him. When we recall God’s faithfulness in the past, it will give us courage and hope. 

Prayer:  Help us, Father, to be patient as we wait on You to answer our prayers. May our faith exceed our problems and our patience grow daily. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today:  Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him. Psalm 62:5

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Basic Leadership

“There’s no shortage of writings on the subject of leadership,” said the author of an article in a business magazine. Perhaps it is because we are facing so much political, economic, and financial insecurity. Everyone seems to be looking for a leader who will challenge their thinking with ideas on how we can recover what we have lost.

Another authority on leadership wrote, “The increasing rate of change is causing people a lot of fear. Facing the rapid rate of change in world markets is causing uncertainty and fear and people don’t know what to believe.”

“People need something that will give them safety and answer their questions about what is going to happen next,” said a professor of economics.

“Leaders and managers are looking for the ‘silver bullet’ to solve their problems, but there is none available,” said a consultant.

One renowned leader sounded foolish, even silly. He wrote, “Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.” But he, of all of the leaders who have taken their places on the stage of history, knew exactly what he was talking about.

From his experience as a shepherd and a king, a warrior and a parent, he had discovered that the Lord alone was able to lead him, to give him answers, provide solutions to his problems and enable him to make good decisions. He looked to his Leader, the Lord God of Israel, who had led His people into paths of prosperity and peace. He looked to the ultimate Leader who had proven Himself “right” since the beginning of time. Who is your leader?

Prayer:  Lord, we look for a leader, may we look to You. Those who have followed Your guidance have never fooled, failed, or forsaken their followers. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today:  Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I. Psalm 61:2c

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Alone And Abandoned

It’s not a popular topic to talk about but it is a common feeling we all have at one time or another. No matter how great our achievements or how powerful we become, no one seems to escape feelings of defeat that come our way as we journey through life.

It started in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve rejected the guidance of God. They decided to go their own way and do their own thing and leave God out of their lives. It is impossible to imagine the beauty they enjoyed or the tranquility they were given. Sadly, they were not satisfied with God’s plan and chose to reject it.

We read in God’s Word that when Israel was faithful to God, God was faithful to Israel. When the army was triumphant, the people prospered. And when the people were disobedient, discontent, and doubting, they were defeated, and at times, nearly destroyed.

What was true then is equally true today. God cannot and will not bless any one or any nation that defies Him or His teachings. He will only bless those who follow His teachings and obey His laws. His nature demands righteousness, and if we are faithful to Him, we can count on His being faithful to us, giving us His best blessings individually and as a nation.

David experienced the rejection of God because of His disobedience. He could not restore his soul or the souls of his people. Only God could restore him when he repented. He knew this and prayed, “You have rejected us...You have been restore us!”

Prayer:  May we realize, Father, it is not You who rejects us, but we who too often reject You. May we recognize our sins, repent, and be restored, we pray. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: You have rejected us, God, and burst upon us; you have been angry—now restore us! Psalm 60:1 

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Overcoming The Overwhelming

David was hunted, haunted and harassed. Often he was forced into a crevice and had little room to move or stretch. But in his moments of oppression, he did not seem to suffer from depression. He felt free to sing a song of hope that God planted in his heart. He found a source of strength that came to him from his dearest friend and constant companion – God!

“I will sing of Your strength, in the morning I will sing of Your love; for You are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble!” wrote David as he reflected on the troubled times of his life. And he was not the only one who found themselves in life-threatening and even life-ending situations.

Do you remember what Paul and Silas did when they were thrown into prison for serving the Lord? At midnight they were praying and singing hymns of praise to the Lord while the other prisoners listened to them in awe. God joined in the celebration, sent an earthquake that caused so much shaking that the prisoners’ chains fell off and their doors flew open. The confines and chains of being in prison could not silence them.

Josephus, the historian, wrote of the Christians awaiting death in the Coliseum. Waiting on the lions to maul and mangle them, they sang songs of joy so loudly that their voices were heard above the roar of the lions and the cheers of the crowd. As they faced the lions that would devour them, God put His song in their mouths, His peace in their hearts, and His angels to comfort them.

Prayer:  Lord, when we face the confinement of a cell or the threat of being devoured by foes that would destroy us, quiet our heart with Your peace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble. Psalm 59:16 

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Is Life Ever Fair?

“Why should Christians be good and help others and never get much wealth when so many who don’t believe in God prosper and have so much?” he asked angrily. His wife died following a lengthy illness that drained all of the family’s emotional, spiritual and financial resources. His resentment toward God, coupled with grief, was understandable. Most of us have experienced feelings like that to some degree.

However, let’s think of Job for a moment. He was good, and his friends were evil. He experienced much pain and suffering while his friends seemed to enjoy the good things of life.

Then there is the story of Joseph. He was a good and decent man, and his “superior’s” wife was not. She had him arrested on an unjust charge, and he was imprisoned.

Sometimes it seems as though being good has no reward. It is an end in itself. We receive no recognition or appreciation. Why bother?

That is when we need to recall the words of the Psalmist: “The people will say ‘Surely the righteous still are rewarded; surely there is a God who judges the earth.’“

Job’s boils became his blessings, and if Joseph had not been a prisoner, he would not have become a prime minister.

God will take the worst events of our lives and ultimately transform them into our greatest blessings if we allow Him.

Prayer:  Grant us patience, Father, knowing that You are as fair as You are faithful. Give us patience knowing You will turn our tragedies into triumphs. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Then people will say, “Surely the righteous still are rewarded; surely there is a God who judges the earth.” Psalm 58:11 

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What Is An Azimuth?

He stood before my desk with a set of orders and said, “FTC Nichols reporting for duty, Sir.” Not hearing his designator very clearly I asked, “What do you do for the Navy, Chief?”

“Sir,” he said crisply, “I recently completed a tour of duty on a guided missile frigate. I was the one who was responsible for making certain that the azimuth on each weapon system was operational and accurate, Sir.” He certainly had my attention and spoke convincingly. There was no doubt in my mind that he was competent to do his job and that all weapon systems under his control would deliver their missiles to the intended target at the precise moment. There is a great lesson for Christians in “azimuth.”

God wants to place His “azimuth” in our hearts. Consider what David wrote, “My heart is steadfast O God; My heart is steadfast.” So committed was he to the Lord that he emphasized the word “steadfast” by stating it twice. But there is something more.

The word “steadfast” can also be interpreted, even more correctly in this verse, as “confident!” Here we see David finding inner satisfaction in God after following many ill-fated paths in his life. So, it took time for God to do His work. Eventually, his faith grew and resulted in an inner transformation that rearranged his life and priorities. This transformation became visible to others by the way he worshiped, worked, and served God.

When we completely commit our lives to God, He will give us His guidance system to control the destiny of our lives as we seek His will. His Word will become our “azimuth.”

Prayer:  Thank You, Lord, for Your Word that can be a lamp for our feet and a light for our path to guide us in paths of righteousness. May we willingly follow Your plan. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: My heart, O God, is steadfast, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music. Psalm 57:7 

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