God's Grace

Every now and then it is good to take a "morning inventory" and reflect on the grace of God.

This morning when I opened my eyes I thanked God for protecting me while I slept.  As I turned off the alarm clock, I thanked Him for sounds and my hearing. As I rested for a moment before I got out of bed, I could feel my beating heart which He kept going while I slept. As I stood up, I thanked Him for my balance, healthy legs and my slippers. As I took a shower, I thanked Him for the warm water, shampoo, soap, a towel and a mat on the floor to keep me from slipping. Then I continued by thanking Him for a mirror, razor, deodorant and on and on until I thanked Him for all of the articles of clothing He provided for me to wear today.

And then I thanked Him for the words of the psalmist that reminded me of His promise: "no good thing will He withhold from those whose walk is blameless."

It was then that I had to pause in deep humility and gratefully thank Him for His love and grace that I do not deserve. It is so easy for me to accept the gifts of God – including my salvation - without realizing that everything I have, ever have had, or will have are gifts from God.

As I reflected on that verse, the word blameless kept ringing in my ears as though it was my friendly alarm clock. I, of all people, am certainly not blameless. As I meditated on the word blameless for a few minutes and thought about everything I am or have, it's not because I am blameless. It's because of His unending love and grace!

Prayer:  Thank You Lord, for loving us, saving us and giving us everything we have. May we be ever grateful! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: No good thing will He withhold from those whose walk is blameless. Psalm 84:11c 

A Lovely Dwelling Place

It was Sunday morning and James said to his mother, "I don't feel good." Worried she asked, "Where don't you feel good?" Quickly he replied, "When I'm in church."

One psalmist wrote, "How lovely is Your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God!"

What was it that made the "dwelling place" lovely? It was the presence of the Lord. But anywhere a believer is can be a dwelling place where we can find the presence of the Lord. Wherever we are He is, and we can commune with Him and express the desires of our heart.

Many believe that God can only be found in church when they "report" for worship. For some it may be once a week or twice a month. For a few, worship only happens on special days or occasions. Every attempt is made to "discharge" all of their obligations by making one or two trips to church in any given year.

But if God is not worshiped seven days a week, it does not seem reasonable that we will truly worship Him one day a week or once a year. Worship that is worthy of Him is something we who are His children are to do consciously and constantly every moment of every day. It does not matter where we are or what we are doing.  We are to offer our words and our work, our hearts and our habits to Him as gestures of love and adoration.

Worship is not something we do; it is the way we live. Worship is presenting all that we do as a sacrifice to Him.

Prayer:  Lord, may we gladly present all of us – whatever we do, wherever we are – as a gift of ourselves to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: How lovely is Your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Psalm 84:1-2

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Trying To Escape God

God seems to appear when we least expect Him. He certainly will not be confined within the walls of a church or restrained by the rituals of a religion. He is, after all, God the Creator, Sustainer, and Savior. He makes Himself known when and where and as He pleases.

Once, during the transatlantic crossing of a large ocean liner, a major storm erupted, breaking the silence of calm seas. A huge wave swept over the bow of the ship and swept a sailor into the raging waters. His cry for help went unheard.

But in Philadelphia, his Christian mother, who was sound asleep, suddenly awoke with an urgent desire to pray for him. Even though she was not aware of what had happened or his life-threatening situation, she prayed for his safety with urgency and intensity. She then returned to bed and fell asleep with peace in her heart.

Weeks later her son returned home, opened the door and shouted, “Mother, I’m saved!” Then he described what had happened, how he had been swept overboard. As he was sinking in the swirling waves, he remembered thinking, “I’m lost forever!” Then he remembered a hymn he once sang in church about looking to Jesus to be saved. He cried out, “O God, I look to Jesus to be saved,” and another wave swept him back onto the ship.

When he finished his story, his mother told her story. They then thanked God for the storm that saved his soul. As the Psalmist wrote, “Pursue them with Your tempest and terrify them with your storm.” God does all He can to reach us. Our God is amazing.

Prayer:  Thank You, God, for what You are willing to do to save us. Although we will never understand Your love, we willingly accept it! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Pursue them with Your tempest and terrify them with your storm. Psalm 83:15 

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There was a time on earth when there were no nations or governments. People did as they pleased. As a result, God's creation – the human race – sank into disgraceful depths of despair. God wanted to solve the problem so He covered the earth with a flood in judgment. Then He put government in the world to restrain wickedness. That first government came from God, and every government ever since has come from God.

Why? Because no one has any authority unless it comes from God. Whether those who govern us are good or bad, right or wrong, gracious or greedy – they are there because God put them there. Some use their power to do God's will. Others use their power in an attempt to go against God's will. Whoever serves the people as leaders serve as He pleases with His permission.

So, it follows that those who refuse to obey the teachings and laws of God will ultimately be rewarded for their obedience or disobedience. Perhaps they will get away with it here, but certainly not in the "hereafter." 

"God presides in the great assembly," wrote Asaph, the author of Psalm 82. And he concluded, "He gives judgment among the 'gods'." In other words, if those whom God has placed in positions of leadership as rulers or judges do not rule with God’s laws and commandments as their guide, they will face His judgment.

Not long ago, one ruler who was dying cried out, "Now I must face the Judge. This is what disturbs me." We, too, must face this Judge. What reward will we get on that day?

Prayer:  Lord, may we live our lives realizing that someday we will stand before You as Judge of all we have done. Help us to live with that in mind. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: God presides in the great assembly. He gives judgment among the 'gods.' Psalm 82:1 

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It's All About Choice

A reader recently wrote and asked a question that many of us ask at one time or another: "If there is a God, and if He is a good and loving God, why does He allow sin and suffering?"

A simple answer is that God gave Adam and Eve, as He does each of us, the opportunity and freedom to  make choices and live with the consequences. However, there was a tremendous liability that came with their choice and freedom that continues to affect us. Their decision to disobey God and take what was not theirs has resulted in the sin and suffering that grips our world today. We live with the consequences of their choice,

But it seems that we all make decisions that are not in keeping with what is in our best interests. Consider the history of Israel. The psalmist wrote, "My people would not listen to me; Israel would not submit to me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts."

Without choice there could be no love or liberty, grace or goodness, caring or compassion. We are free to choose what is right and righteous or what is destructive and devastating. This is true of individuals and nations alike. We continue to have sin and suffering because of wrong choices and their never-ending consequences,

And why do we make wrong choices? Again our psalmist has the answer: "If my people would but listen to me...I would subdue their enemies."

We do not have to make wrong choices, but, we make wrong choices because we do not listen to the Word of God and follow His directions.

Prayer:  We pray, Father, that we will allow Your Word to speak to our hearts and guide our decisions. Then the consequences will bring Your blessings. In Jesus’ Name, Amen! 

Scripture For Today: My people would not listen to me; Israel would not submit to me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts. Psalm 81:11-12 

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What's In Your Mouth?

Few of us enjoy going to a dentist. The first words we usually hear after a pleasant greeting are, "Open your mouth wide, please. Wider…Thank you!" Most of us, from our previous experiences with dentists, would rather keep our mouth shut.

When the Psalms were written, there were many different ways to show favors to their guests. For example, if a king wanted to extend a favor to a guest he would sometimes say, "Open your mouth wide," and then fill it with gems or sweets.

Our King said to us in Psalm 81, "Open wide your mouth and I will fill it!" What an unusual statement. Yet, when we think of it, our King's love is limitless and His might is measureless and His knowledge of our needs is ever on His mind!

What an encouragement for us to invest time in prayer. When we pray, we “open our mouths” and express our needs and desires to God. If, when we pray, we are earnest and honest and sincere and expect God to hear us…and if we have been obedient to His teaching… and if in our prayers we are asking Him to bless our requests in a way that will honor Him, then surely He will respond positively to our requests.

God is able and anxious to meet our every need. If we have a loved one who has not accepted His grace, or if we have a need for food on our tables, or if we have a spouse or parent or child who is suffering with a disease that some say is incurable, give us an opportunity for us to “open wide our mouths” and ask for His help, hope, and healing.

Prayer:  Give us faith, Heavenly Father, to believe that Your invitation “is what it is” – to open wide our mouths and call on You. Help us to trust You more! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Open wide your mouth and I will fill it. Psalm 81:10b 

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Revive Us!

Many lament the spiritual decline in our nation. We see a culture in decline and the rising tide of secularism. We know that our God is powerful – that He can dominate the lives of those who profess to love Him – if they will only allow Him. He is willing and able. But we must become willing and available if we want renewal and revival. The responsibility is on us. The possibility is with Him.

God's children in all ages come close to, and then turn away from, Him. It's as though at some point in time God becomes a liability, a burden, an interferer in the lives of those who profess Him as Lord. He seems to get in the way of, or He keeps them from, enjoying the things in life that bring delight and pleasure to so many.

But this God, our God, is willing and waiting on those who are also willing to "call on His name." And that just may be the problem.

In Scripture, name always refers to the nature or the character or the identity of the person. And, when we think of the name of God, we must always associate His Name with holiness, purity, righteousness, sacrifice, justice, mercy, grace, love and compassion.

The writer of Psalm 80 asks, will You "revive us," or "quicken us" and "restore us that we may be saved." Surely, God will do this because He wants to do this for His Name’s sake. But we cannot expect Him to do this unless we are willing to identify with His character, repent, and become as He is. If we want revival, it must begin with each of us!

Prayer:  Help us, Lord, to recognize that each of us is responsible to You to repent if we want revival. It is not about others, but about each of us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Then we will not turn away from you; revive us, and we will call on your name. Psalm 80:18b, 19 

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He Never Quit!

We are reminded throughout God's Word that He has given us the gift of choice and its consequences. Nowhere are we told that we cannot choose our destinies. But we are also reminded, time and again, that our choices determine our destinies.

Even a casual reading of the New Testament tells us that there were those who followed Jesus because they wanted to get something from Him for selfish reasons. We read that when things looked horrible at His trial those who had been with Him for years fled for their lives. In His days of glamour and glory, they were close by His side. There were others who wanted to be with Him but they refused to make any sacrifices and went their own way.

A graduate of a midwestern university was just an average student. He played sports but never made any of the varsity teams. He was never elected to any office and did not make it far up the corporate ladder. When war broke out, he was among the first to volunteer. After completing basic training, he was sent to a war zone in France.

One day in combat he was serving alongside a soldier in the French army. His comrade was severely wounded and with no thought of himself, he made a decision to get him help. Unfortunately, he did not succeed and was killed on his way to find a medic.

The French Government learned of his act of bravery and awarded him The Croix de Guerre – Cross of War. And his alma mater posted a plaque in his honor that read, "He played with the scrubs for four years – but never quit."

The psalmist said, "We will not turn away from You" by taking the easy path or quitting.

Prayer:  Give us courage, Father, to stand with You and for You when we are tempted to turn from You. May our lives demonstrate to others Your strength. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today:  Then we will not turn away from you. Psalm 80:18a

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Traveling In The Wrong Direction

G.K. Chesterton was a famous English writer. He is held in high esteem for his poetry, respected for his work as a journalist and his writings in the field of philosophy. He was once named by Time magazine as a "man of colossal genius."

 Once, while traveling on a train, he became so engrossed in the book he was reading that he forgot his destination. As the train made its last stop, the conductor went to him and said, "Sir, this is the end of the line."

He frantically searched his pockets for his ticket but could not find it. Not being able to find it, he looked bewildered and confused. Sensing his predicament, the conductor asked, "Where were you going?"

After a lengthy pause, he said to the conductor, "I can't remember. I'll have to phone my wife and ask her."

The writer of Psalm 80 recognized that the children of Israel had abandoned their relationship with God. With a heavy heart, he prayed, "Restore us, O God, make Your face shine upon us that we may be saved." Realizing that they were going in the wrong direction, he asked God to "restore them, turn them around and save them." And He did!

Throughout history, from the dawn of Creation until this very moment, God has never abandoned anyone. It is always the other way around: we abandon Him.

A mother received a letter from her son in prison. In his despair he wrote her and said that he got into trouble because God had abandoned him. With a heart filled with love and sadness for him and his situation, she wrote, "Son, if you do not feel the closeness of God, it is because you have left Him."

Prayer:  We thank You, Lord, for Your promise that You will never leave us nor forsake us – no matter what! May we find You and follow You – faithfully! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Restore us, O God; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved. Psalm 80:3

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Recently there was an article tucked away in a newspaper about a young girl in Georgia who feels no pain. She suffers from a rare congenital disease that affects the nervous system. She and other individuals who are born with congenital insensitivity must be carefully guarded. They must be taught that fire burns or that if they fall a bone might be broken or if they are struck in the head, it may result in a concussion. It is frightening to think of them having to live with no warning system to alert them to pain or sickness. It requires them to be under constant surveillance for their own protection.

There is another insensitivity, however, that is more serious – it is becoming insensitive to sin. Our minds become numb to the dangers of sin as we see degrading pictures of people improperly exposing themselves to attract attention to their sensuality. Or the constant stories of the happiness and pleasures that come from abusing alcoholic beverages or other drugs. Then there are the endless stories about children being born out of wedlock to famous Hollywood celebrities and attractive pictures of them being praised and celebrated for what they did. Children, not old enough to understand God's plan for marriage, are taught that it is appropriate for families to have two moms or two dads. What was once identified as wrong is now right.

But thank God that His Spirit is alive and anxious to convict hearts and change lives. "Deliver us and forgive us our sins for Your name's sake," said the psalmist. If we awaken to the danger of sin and confess, God will forgive and restore us first, and then others.

Prayer:  Open our eyes, Father, and give us sensitive hearts and a willingness, to reject the ways of this world that will destroy us. May our lives honor You! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Help us, God our Savior, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name’s sake. Psalm 79:9 

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Heart Transplants

Following a horrible accident, one of the victims who was in critical condition was medivacked to the emergency department of a hospital in a large metropolitan city. As the staff was removing his shirt, they noticed the name "Jesus" tattooed across his chest in large red letters. Quite amazed the ER nurse said to the attending physician, "From the way he looks and how he's dressed and his lack of cleanliness, I would assume that the name 'Jesus' on his chest is only skin deep."

If we who are Christ's disciples are to be worthwhile witnesses of God's Message, His name on us must be more than skin deep. It must be heart deep. Not only is His name to be on our lips but must penetrate every area of our lives. Not only should it come out of our mouths, but it should be obvious in everything we do. The psalmist said, "But they would flatter Him with their mouths, lying to Him with their tongues, their hearts were not loyal to His covenant."

 Perhaps we can understand what the psalmist was talking about when we think of those who sing, "I Love to Tell the Story" but never witness to anyone. Or, someone who sings, "Have Thine Own Way Lord" with everyone but me. Or, "Take My Life and Let It Be" – yes, let it be right where it is – please don't bother me. I'm too busy.

Unfortunately, the church has far too many members who say one thing with their lips and another thing with their lives.

We need to "transplant" His heart into our hearts.

Prayer:  Grant us, Father, a heart like Jesus, the mind of Christ, and the desire to live a life that is controlled by Your Spirit. May we do what we say we are. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: But then they would flatter him with their mouths, lying to him with their tongues. Psalm 78:36 

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Can God Really?

 "Can God really clean up the mess in my life? Am I so important to Him that He would hear my voice above all the other voices that call on Him every day? Do I make a difference to Him when so many others seem to have more significant issues or important roles than I? Should I bother Him at all if I don't have much faith? Can God do a few miracles for me – insignificant me? If I don't have money to give, will He still hear me?"

We often hear of God's power but question whether or not He can do what He says He is able to do. Sometimes when we ask the question can God we do so with hope and other times with hopelessness, even resignation, wondering if He really is a can do God!

In Psalm 78:19 our writer makes an interesting statement: "They spoke against God" because they questioned His ability when the Israelites who were walking in the wilderness had no food. They even asked, "Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?" They questioned God's ability to do something when they saw nothing. But God can do anything with nothing. Perhaps they forgot about Creation: "In the beginning God created" everything – and He did it from nothing. Nothing!

God has unlimited resources and power that exceed anything we can imagine. And we must never forget that it is combined with His unlimited love!  So, when we add His resources to His power and mix in His love then add His wisdom with the plan He has laid out for each of us, it is not "CAN GOD?” – it is GOD CAN! Our God is a CAN DO GOD!

Prayer:  Father, may we accept the fact that our prayers go unanswered because we lack faith in You or that we have abandoned You and Your teachings. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: They spoke against God; they said, “Can God really spread a table in the wilderness?” Psalm 78:19 

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Divine Directions

It is always wise to think before we talk and ask God to guide our words. And it is important to look to the Lord for His insight and wisdom before we leap into the unknown. It is certainly critical to pray before we proceed with any plan. If we ever fear we are failing it's time to fall on our knees and ask God to come to our rescue. Looking to the Lord for His directions will give us confidence that we are following His will for our lives and can then count on His presence. To make the right choice we must listen for God's voice.

Not only is God interested in who we are but what we do. He is no more interested in the foreign missionary than he is the shop mechanic. He is no more concerned for a preacher than He is a politician. We read in His Word that "God so loved the world" – and that means everyone on it!  That assures us that He has a plan for every life and will reveal His plan to those who willingly search for it and carefully follow it.

But one plan does not fit all any more than one size fits all. He has a different plan for each of us and various methods to speak to us. For some it may be a sermon, for others a passage of Scripture, and many hear a still, soft voice. He may speak quietly during a moment of worship or boldly during a time of sickness.

We must always be alert for His voice. He is constantly speaking to each of us and wanting, willing, and able to lead us on the path He has designed especially for us. As He was with the Israelites then, so He is with us now:  "He guided with a cloud by day and light from a fire all night." His presence is constant, but we must seek it until we find it.

Whether a cloud by day or a light in the darkness, He waits to be our guide.

Prayer:  We thank You, Father, that You will guide and guard us, equip and enable us to do what You call us to do. Bur first we must seek You in earnest. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: He guided them with the cloud by day and with light from the fire all night. Psalm 78:14 

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Faithful Hearts And Right Living

Throughout Scripture the "heart" is used as the center of a person’s being. It describes the heart as the personality or inner life or character of a person 257 times. It states that the heart is the center of a person’s emotional state or consciousness 166 times. It presents the heart as the source of intellectual activities 204 times and this includes what we pay attention to, reflect on, or think about during our quiet moments. It’s what makes sense to us as we consider the things that cross our paths or what enters our minds. It also speaks of the heart as the source that gives us purpose or direction in life 195 times.

We must never overlook the importance of "the heart."

 Certainly the author of Psalm 78 had this in mind. As he reflected on the trials and tragedies of the Israelites, he called attention to the fact that the preceding generations did not put their trust in God and forgot the gracious gifts He gave them. He encouraged them to obey God's laws and not be like their forefathers.

And how were they to do this? What was his "prescription" for them? They were to have "hearts that were loyal to God and spirits that were faithful to Him."

Wisely, this psalmist gave a warning to his listeners.  And, thankfully, God passed it on to us in His Word.

Someone once said to me, "Larry, learn from what sin has done in the lives of others. If you do, you will be blessed of God and able to enjoy the best He has to offer."

  Surely this is the right moment for each of us to look deep within our "hearts" and be certain that God is in the very center and that we are loyal to Him!

Prayer:  We are grateful, Father, for the warnings Your Word gives us. May You be at the center of our hearts as we seek to follow Your guidance each day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: They would not be like their ancestors - a stubborn and rebellious generation, whose hearts were not loyal to God, whose spirits were not faithful to him. Psalm 78:8 

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Wishing, Hoping And Facts

"Be careful what you wish for – it just might come true!" is a saying most of us have grown up with. It comes with no guarantee or assurance that what we ask for is what we will get. In fact, we may get the exact opposite which can result in serious problems.

Wishing is imagining something in our minds that we want to come true – believing that our lives will be better or filled with endless happiness and joy and riches. It is wanting our lives to be more complete or problem-free or better or happier without our having to do anything or making any effort to bring about changes.

But wishing is different from hoping – especially the hope that believers have in God. We can have unflinching and unwavering hope in God because He has done everything He has ever said He would do. There is no room for any doubt in Him or any of His promises. The fulfillment of His promises is well documented and are a testimony to the fact that God is faithful and can be trusted to keep His Word.

God's faithfulness, the psalmist reminds us, is so predictable that it has become "a law in Israel." And this testimony of God's faithfulness is to be passed on by fathers to their children so they put their hope in God and "never forget His deeds."

God wants fathers to teach their children that hope does not come from politicians or policies. Nor does He want fathers to teach their children that they are to place their hope in acquiring wealth or worldly goods. And He does not want fathers to teach their children to place their hope in the knowledge or skills or talents they possess. God wants everyone - fathers, mothers, and children to place their hope in Him.

Prayer:  We pray, Lord that fathers (and mothers) will realize their responsibility to raise their children to hope only in You and be faithful and obedient. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today:  So the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Psalm 78:6

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Pass It On!

"How many more times do I have to tell you before you remember what I'm trying to teach you?" asked Jim's Dad.

"Probably as many times as it takes for me to see what's in it for me," answered Jim.

Most of us have been involved in similar "discussions." Some "lessons" are more difficult to learn than others if we see no immediate benefit for ourselves.

So it was with the children of Israel. Psalm 78 begins with a plea from God: "Oh my people, hear my teaching!" Notice that God is pleading with His people to hear Him. Notice, also, the difference between listening and hearing. Some listen but do not want to hear some messages. So God emphasized that fact: "listen to the words of my mouth."

Of course we want to know what He means when He asks us to "listen to the words of my mouth."

Then, as now, many only listen to any speaker who has something to say that pleases them – even God. If we do not believe that the words of the speaker – even God – will benefit us personally and tangibly we will not hear their voice. Sadly, what was true then is true today.

God spoke to the Israelites many times on many different occasions through many different individuals and unexpected miracles. Yet, His message did not penetrate into the depth of their hearts and make a lasting impression in their lives. They forgot the importance of obedience and the requirement to remain faithful, 

If we listen carefully, remain faithful, and obey His Word, He will reward us.

Prayer:  We pray, Father, for ears that listen for Your voice, hearts that are open to follow Your ways, so that our lives will reflect obedience to Your Word. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: My people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth. Psalm 78:1-2 

God's Way - The Only Way

There is, perhaps, no more reassuring picture of God’s presence and protection than that of a shepherd carrying a sheep or leading and protecting his flock. In fact, that image which we recall from Psalm 23 brings us comfort and assurance whenever we face insecure moments when our lives are filled with uncertainties. It brings to memory the grace and goodness, mercy and might, tenderness and thoughtfulness of our God.

In bringing Psalm 77 to a conclusion, our author presents a picture of the Good Shepherd – the One who was with the children of Israel and of the One who would come as Redeemer and one day Ruler. He writes, “You led your people like a flock, by the hand of Moses and Aaron.”

Can you picture in your mind the scene he wanted those who read this Psalm to visualize in their minds? Seas writhing and convulsing, drenching rains falling from dark clouds that covered their path; skies that cried out and echoed with deafening thunder; flaming arrows flying above their heads; a whirlwind with noise and lightning; earthquakes that shook the ground under their feet. He wanted to remind them that through it all and in it all was their Creator-Sustainer-God who not only brought them into existence and would not let them perish, but had a plan and purpose for their lives.

Listen carefully to what the Psalmist said to them at that moment in their journey then, and hear what he is saying to us today: “Whenever life seems to be coming to an end, it is only the beginning for My chosen. I am your Shepherd and will love you and lead you. You are mine, and no one can take you from me! I am and always will be with you.”

Prayer:  May we sense Your presence at all times and in all places, Father, and be assured that You are with us. Help us to trust in Your love! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today:  You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron. Psalm 77:20

The God Of Miracles

What is a miracle? And who decides what a miracle is? Is there some special committee that looks at various events in history and classifies them as being a miracle or an ordinary event? Or can two people look at the same event and one say, “This is indeed a miracle!” and the other say, “Nothing amazing here. It just happened to end up this way. That’s the way life works.”

Our Psalmist looked around and said, “You are the God who performs miracles; You display Your powers among the peoples.”

There is a beautiful theme in this Psalm. In the first several verses, the writer seems to be having a difficult time seeing God. Then, suddenly, God’s Spirit interrupted his thinking and brought God’s grace to his attention. When he finally put things into context, he recalled that it was God who controls everything, and it was his God who was the One who parted the waters and led the Israelites to safety. Those who were drowned and destroyed by the “mighty waters” could not see their “misfortune” as God performing a miracle for those who were obedient to Him. But those whom He saved did!

And so it is today. Those who have been redeemed by the love, mercy, and grace of God see His miracles in their lives all day every day. When we pray, He answers. If we become sick, He heals. When we need forgiveness, He alone can remove our shame and guilt. When others abandon us, He is a friend who stands close beside us and behind us protecting us. When we grieve, He comforts us. When we are stressed, He calms our heart. When we have nothing, He meets our needs. Our God does performs miracles.

Prayer:  Open our eyes, Heavenly Father, to see the many miracles You perform in our lives each and every day. Enable us to see Your greatness! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: You are the God who performs miracles; You display Your powers among the peoples. Psalm 77:14 

The Marvels Of Memories

The mind has a mind of its own. Occasionally, it takes little trips and goes on interesting journeys that bring back memories from long ago. Memories that are both pleasant and painful. Memories that are both welcomed and worrisome. Memories that must have been stored there by God to help us remember His mercy and, at times, His judgment.

Psalm 77 is very egocentric. Take time, if you will, and count the number of times the personal pronoun “I” occurs. It is rather amazing.

It begins with the writer carefully reviewing many instances of feeling forsaken and abandoned by God. He writes of calling for help – but no voice responded. His eyes would not close – and he was reminded of tragedies he wanted to forget. He felt rejected and unloved and even gave up on God ever being faithful or kind to him again.

Then, suddenly, his mind called things to a halt. God seemed to awaken him and he said, “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes I will remember Your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all Your works and consider all Your mighty deeds.”

Our minds do wander and walk through dark valleys filled with deep sorrows and painful valleys. And when it does, it only takes a moment, if we choose, to turn things around and change the shadows and sorrows and valleys in to sunlight and smiles and sun-lit mountain tops. God did this for the Psalmist. He wants to do the same for us: recall His miracles in our lives that give us peace and eternal hope in His Word.

Prayer:  Remind us, Lord, that in all things and through all things and with all things that we are not alone or abandoned. Give us confidence to trust You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: But then I recall all you have done, O Lord; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago. They are constantly in my thoughts. I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works. Psalm 77:11-12 

It Comes From Somewhere!

A long time, political figure was asked, “How much power does it take to satisfy politicians?”

After thinking about the question for a moment, he responded with a twinkle in his eye: “Just a little more!” And then added, “The more we have the more we want.”

Politicians rise and fall, come and go, do helpful things and some things that seem to cause confusion and chaos. Whatever they do comes from the power that we seem to give them. Or does it?

Insightfully, the Psalmist said, “No one…can exalt a man...It is God who judges: He brings one down, He exalts another.” After all is said and done, there is no power apart from God. He is Almighty. He rules.

We often think of ourselves and others as being self-contained. We live, we breathe, we walk and talk, we do this and that, but – in fact – we live breath by breath and moment by moment according to God’s plan for our lives. Our physical life, and the life of those whom He allows to have power and influence over us, do so as He wills and wishes.

These are days of turbulence and turmoil, fear and frustration, uncertainty and anxiety. We do not know what is going to happen before our next heartbeat. But it is comforting to know that God is in control of everyone and everything. He has fixed limits on their terms and their time in office. He also has a plan in place for them and everything.

God often seems to move at the pace of a snail – but He is indeed moving. We can rest assured that all is well.

Prayer:  Thank You, Father, for the assurance in Your Word that You are righteous and just, and that Your love and faithfulness endures. Thank You for hope. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today:  It is God alone who judges; he decides who will rise and who will fall. Psalm 75:7 

Why Worship?

We live in a busy world. Days are crowded with more things to do than time allows. Instant texting and rapid responses to anything and everything, whether accurate or not, wants to dominate every moment of our lives. Everyone seems to have an opinion they think we need to hear on every subject – from the mundane to the insane, from the very important issues of life to “stuff” that does not matter. We have become conditioned to listen for something to listen to whether it matters or not.

Psalm 75 explodes with an important reminder. “We give thanks to You, O God, we give thanks for Your Name is near! Men tell of your wondrous works!” The fact that the word thanks appears twice in one sentence intensifies its importance and significance. But we should not be surprised. We are to thank God not only for His wondrous works but because He is near to us – now and always! God Himself, the God Who created us as well as everything that is. He Who is in everything and sustains everything is close by.

Jesus once commanded Peter to cast his net into the water to catch some fish. He did and was amazed at the results. The disciple then falls at His feet in fear and wonder. What a miracle, we proclaim! When Jesus spoke, things happened. God’s presence and power in Him and through Him became a reality instantly.

The same is true today. While we may not see many extreme displays of His power and presence, nonetheless He is at work. The little gifts in our lives as well as the immense miracles he lavishes upon us and in us prove that He is near us and caring for us. How unfortunate it is if we are unaware of His presence and power in our lives.

Prayer:  We cannot thank You enough, Father, for Your unending gifts in our lives. May we become more aware of Your presence and thank You continuously. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: We give thanks to you, O God, we give thanks for your name is near! Men tell of your wondrous works. Psalm 75:1 

He Will Be King!

A comedian was known to have a quick mind and could turn any subject into a joke. On one occasion he said to his audience, “I can make a joke on any subject. Try me!”

A gentleman stood up and shouted, “The subject is The King.”

Quickly he replied, “The King can never be a subject!”

There is a Psalm that reflects this truth. The people of Israel had an unpredictable relationship with God. There were times when He was indeed their Lord, and there were times when they refused to allow Him to be their King. They wanted their own way. They wanted Him to be subject to them. They had things backwards.

But the writer of Psalm 74 was different. He said, “But God is my King from long ago; He brings salvation to the earth.” He wanted God to be His Ruler – His King.

Jesus was born to be King. There were twelve whom He chose to become His disciples. And there were many who followed Him, listened to Him, believed in Him – yet never fully surrendered their hearts and lives to Him. They did not allow Him to be their King and refused to become His subjects. One day an unruly mob shouted: “We will not have this Man rule over us!” And they crucified Him.

Many years ago hundreds of college students from around the world met in London before going to their mission fields to serve their Lord. The group from Japan could not attend but sent a simple message that read, “Make Jesus King!”

We can change the world if Jesus becomes King of our lives. Will you enthrone Him?

Prayer:  Come, Lord Jesus, and rule in our hearts and change our lives. May we serve You as loyal subjects and honor You as our King - forever. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today:  But God is my King from long ago; He brings salvation to the earth. Psalm 74:12

Stay Close: Avoid Disaster

“That sure was close, Mom,” said Little George.

“What do you mean?” asked his mother.

“Well, I got three days behind in my prayers and when I heard the thunder and saw the lightning, I prayed really hard and got caught up and now I’m not afraid.”

We all allow “gaps” to develop in our prayer life. When things are going the way we want them to go and there are no serious problems to deal with, it’s easy to “let up” on the time we spend with God in prayer.

This life style is not uncommon. In fact, the Psalmist came to the same conclusion when he wrote, “But as for me, it is good to be near God.”

We have all met people in life that keep everyone at a distance. Whether they don’t want to know us or they don’t want us to know them may never be clear. But we feel the separation and there is not much, if anything, we can do about it. So, we move on.

But with God, it is different. We can get as close to Him as we desire. In fact, we all know that drawing close to God is something that He wants us to do. His gracious invitation “come to me” is always available.

Life is like an “incline.” If we are not walking upward toward Him, we are slipping downward and away from Him. My mother once said to me, “Larry, if you are not as close to God as you once were, you are the one who has moved.” And she added, “If you draw close to Him, He will get closer to you.”

God not only waits for us to come to Him, but constantly calls: “Come to Me.”

Prayer:  Lord, may we feel Your presence each moment of every day and stay closer to You than our best friend. Help me to make You my “best friend.” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: But as for me, how good it is to be near God! I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do. Psalm 73:28 

I Didn't Have Anyone To Turn To

A young child had been lost in the woods. After a long search, the rescue team found him and returned him to his anxious parents. With tear-filled eyes he looked at his mother and said, “Mom, when I was lost in the woods, I had no one to turn to. Now that I’m back in your arms, I do!”

A Psalmist made the same statements: “Whom have I in heaven but You? And earth has nothing that I desire besides You.”

No one or no thing can do for us what our Heavenly Father can do for us. Nor is there anyone anywhere who will ever mean more to us or be more for us than our Lord – if we allow Him.

Some, we know, turn to materialism rather than the Master. There is nothing wrong with having money and what money can buy, but it is wrong when we worship money, allow our lives to be consumed with making money so we can acquire the things of this world. In the end, materialism consumes us because there is never enough to calm our fears or give us peace.

Others look for the answers to life in science. Science has provided many benefits and increased and made our lives more enjoyable. But science cannot cleanse us from sin or assure us of peace and hope in this world and a life with our Father in the world to come. Science can improve our earthly lives, but it cannot impart eternal life.

Wisely the Psalmist reviewed his past carefully, considered his future, and realized that apart from God there was nothing worth living for. He asked the right question.

Prayer:  Help us to understand, Father, that in You we find peace and satisfaction, completeness and hope. May we discover what brings fullness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing that I desire besides you. Psalm 73:25 

The End!

Christianity is not a religion. Religion is man seeking a god. But in Christianity it is exactly the opposite: it is God seeking man through Jesus Christ. Scripture informs us that God “sent His Son” into the world to seek and to save us that we might have a relationship with Him. It is a relationship that is certain, constant, and continual.

It begins with a grip. A visitor to the Alps decided to go mountain climbing with a famous guide. As they ascended the mountain all went well until they came to a dangerous crevice. His guide held out his hand but the visitor was reluctant and hesitated. “Grab my hand,” shouted the guide. “That hand has never lost anyone.” So it is with God. “I am always with you,” said the Psalmist, “You hold me by my right hand.”

It continues with a Guide. God has a plan for each of us. He knows our possibilities as well as our limitations. Only He can guide us in the right path because He created us to be God-guided in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. We often fall short of what God intended us to be and become, but if we are willing, He is able to lead us carefully and safely through life. The Psalmist wisely wrote, “You guide me with Your counsel.”

It ends in glory – not a grave. What a blessed hope! He extends His sure-handed grip to keep us from falling. And with our hand in His, He guides us every day of our lives. Finally we end up living eternally with Him. All because our Father loves us with an everlasting love.

Prayer:  We thank You, Father, for the assurance of Your presence and power in our lives – today and every day. May our trust overcome our doubts! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny. Psalm 73:23-24 

Discovering The Goodness Of God

If God is good, why do the godly suffer pain and sorrow and grief? If God is fair, why do the faithful fail? If God cares, why does He allow Christians to be persecuted? If God is powerful, why are innocent people harassed, beaten, and murdered?

And why are the ungodly prosperous? Why are the ungodly happy? Why are the ungodly recipients of any good thing? After all, they are ungodly!

The writer of Psalm 73 had a problem with bad people living godless lives and receiving earthly rewards. He was a bit angry when he saw their lavish lifestyles. They appeared to have everything their hearts desired, lived lives of ease and were healthy. Their riches multiplied even though they scoffed at God and threatened His children. What’s up?

So the writer of the Psalm became frustrated. He avoided evil and when he sinned, he immediately confessed and asked God to forgive him. He read God’s Word, engaged in prayer and tried to live a godly life. But all he got from God was trouble -  all day, every day! Finally he asked God, “Am I wasting my time? Why should I bother to be godly?”

Fortunately, he went to the right place for his answer. “Finally,” he concluded when he went to the sanctuary to worship, “I understood their end!” Wrongs in this life will be corrected in the next! Remember: Dives lived in pleasure and Lazarus in pain. But there came a day when things were reversed: Dives was tormented by flames, and Lazarus went to live lavishly in his Father’s Kingdom.

The ungodly leave their treasures at death but the godly only begin to enjoy their rewards with their Father - forever.

Prayer:  Give us a strong faith, Father, to look beyond what is to what will be when we are at last with You. May we focus on what matters most – YOU! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Look at these wicked people - enjoying a life of ease while their riches multiply. Psalm 73:12 


Our hearts are amazing! The average adult heart beats 72 times a minute; 100,000 times a day; 3,600,000 times a year; and 2.5 billion times during a life time.

Although the adult heart only weighs about 11 ounces on average, a healthy heart pumps 2,000 gallons of blood through 60,000 miles of blood vessels each day. If laid out end to end it would circle the globe two times. It pumps blood to almost all of the body’s 75 trillion cells. Only our cornea receives no blood. During an average lifetime, the heart will pump nearly 1.5 billion barrels of blood – enough to fill 200 train tank cars. And every day the heart creates enough energy to drive a truck 20 miles. In a lifetime, it will create enough energy to drive it to the moon and back.

When we consider all that our hearts do for us, its importance cannot be measured. Without its constant beating, we could not live. It sustains our lives. Its every beat is a gift from God but we rarely think about it unless we have “heart-problems.” Yet, physical-heart problems are not as serious as spiritual-heart problems. Only God can do miracles with “both” hearts.

The word “heart” occurs six times in Psalm 73. But in verse one it speaks of “those who are pure in heart” – those whose heart is completely committed to God and place Him first in their lives and love Him unconditionally.

Over this God-centered heart is the heart that Jeremiah describes: “a heart that is deceitful and beyond cure.” A heart in this condition needs the Great Physician to cleanse it, restore it, live in it, and fill it with His love.

Prayer:  Help us, Father, to give our hearts to You, and then make room in our hearts for You to live – so that Your Spirit will occupy it completely. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Truly God is good to Israel, to those whose hearts are pure. Psalm 73:1

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Qualifications For Leaders

Books on leadership line the shelves of bookstores. Each month, it seems, there are new titles that describe some new technique that will make any leader a better leader. From the “who to,” to the “how to,” to the “where to,” to the “what to,” to the “why to” and the “when to,” these books cover every imaginable leadership situation. But none of them ever give a money back guarantee with the promise that “if you do this you will become successful and rise to the top.”

Solomon is recognized as a great leader. And, as the author of Psalm 72 he describes the leadership qualities of a king that would be honored and blessed of God.

It is no wonder, then, that he begins with justice and righteousness. It is almost impossible to imagine what society would be like if every leader at every level in every organization or position in government was committed to being just and righteous. This is what God wants and expects of leaders, and one day they will be judged by this!

“Endow the king with Your justice, O God...May he judge Your people with righteousness!” Although our text reads justice, Solomon was asking God for leaders to set in motion a process that every leader would “do acts of justice, based on righteousness” that flowed from the top down. Solomon wanted everyone to be treated fairly.

Of course, we say, “That’s not possible, Lord.” But He – the Sovereign God who will judge us - says to each of us “as one of My disciples you must do this. Even if no one else demonstrates my justice and if no one else shows my righteousness to those around them, then you, as my disciple, must set the example. You are accountable to me!”

Prayer:  Help us, Father, to realize that we either bring others to You or drive them from You by the lives we live and way we lead. May we be just! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Endow the king with your justice, O God, the royal son with your righteousness. Psalm 72:1 

Legacies That Live

What others have done in the past influences what we do today. What is done today will influence what goes on in the future. It’s like dominoes: stand them on end and place them in a line – one after another – and if the one at the beginning or end of the line is pushed over, all of them will fall down.

We all leave legacies. And all legacies are different because everyone is different. Yet, we seldom realize that we actually leave two different types of legacies. Most of the time we think of leaving a legacy of valuables: money, stocks, property, insurance, vehicles, jewelry – things that have monetary value and can be exchanged for currency.

But we rarely think of the legacy we leave that has eternal value – a value that has moral and spiritual influence or impact on the lives of others. Whether or not we realize it or want to admit it, we cannot not influence or impact the lives of others.

The writer of Psalm 71 was very conscious of the spiritual values he would leave behind. “Even when I am old and grey,” he wrote, “do not forsake me my God, till I declare Your power to the next generation, Your mighty acts to all who are to come.”

In the preceding verses he recalled the goodness of God in his life: “You are my refuge, my rock, my fortress, my hope, my confidence, my teacher, my Savior.” God had been with Him, had honored and protected him and made his life worthwhile. He wanted others to know this God and what He could do for them.

So, he asked God to spare him so he could share His faith and hope. 

Prayer:  Lord of our lives – may every day of our life be a witness to others and may we leave a legacy of Your love and a witness of Your grace and gifts. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come. Psalm 71:18 

Growing Old With God

 Hope is one of the most important words in the vocabulary of many people. It is a word that we hear daily – from many sources for many different reasons. It is used to guard minds and guide lives. Sometimes it gives courage and confidence to people who are on the verge of giving up on life or giving in to their circumstances. There are those who have little of this world’s goods – yet have a hope larger than life and believe that one day things will change for them, and they will receive the “good” things they have wanted from the day they were born. Many people use hope as a “wish” that something good would happen to them – something out of the ordinary to change the direction of their lives.

But “hope” in Scripture is different from that concept of hope. In God’s Word hope is always directed to “some-thing or Someone we can believe in that will eventually come true or come to our rescue.” It is someThing – God’s Word. If God declared it, His Word revealed it, and we can believe it because His-story records it accurately. Whatever He said came to pass.

Then there is Someone – God’s Son. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” We can believe in and have confidence in Him because what He said about Himself came true. “I will rise again in three days.” And again, His-story records it factually and accurately.

A famous heart surgeon once said, “Christians who have hope will find that their hope in God is far more reliable and will do more for them than any medication I can prescribe or any procedure I can perform.” Where is your hope and what can it do for you?

Prayer:  We thank You, Father, for a fact-filled faith that gives us true hope and the assurance we need for our lives. May we find true hope in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today:  As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more. Psalm 71:14

Eternal Security

Many place their hope in the stock market or the price of gold or the property they own. Some look to the security of a pension or promise of a retirement account. Others hide money fearing the collapse of the economy. A few store food in containers that they have been told will last for years should a famine occur. Yet in the final analysis all of us know – deep down inside of us – that there is no promise that cannot be broken or possession that cannot be taken from us.

Psalm 71 was written by an old person. It seems as though he is reflecting on a life that has had many ups and downs, problems and pitfalls. But it is a Psalm that proclaims the faithfulness of God – past, present and future. “From my birth I have relied on You...You brought me forth from my mother’s womb...I will always have hope and praise You more and more!”

If there is any comfort we can take from God’s Word it is this: The record of His deeds in the past gives us the assurance of His grace today and hope for tomorrow. In this Psalm the author gives us a powerful description of the fact that there is no shadow of doubt in his mind that God’s great acts in the past are sufficient evidence for us to believe that He will be with us today as well as tomorrow: “I declare Your power to the next generation, Your mighty acts to all who are to come!”

What more can we ask for? Whatever God has done for anyone at any time, He can do for us. He alone is faithful and worthy of worship. He alone endures forever.

Prayer:  We rejoice together, Father, knowing that You have been with us and will be with us forever. Help us to trust and obey, not doubt. Thank You! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: You have kept me safe from birth. It was You Who watched over me from the day I was born. My praise is always of You. Psalm 71:5