We Are What We Worship

There are some religions in the Orient that follow practices that are condemned by Scripture and society. A member of one of those religions was jailed for robbery and murder which was part of his “faith.” While imprisoned he was visited by a missionary who shared with him the message of salvation. After he accepted Christ, the missionary gave him a Bible which became his dearest possession.

When he appeared before the judge, he testified that he had been brought up to be a worshiper of Kali. As a young child he was taught that if he shed the blood of the victims he robbed, he would please Kali - a Hindu goddess - and win her favor. He faithfully practiced his belief and worshiped this goddess all his life.

When the judge confronted him with his crime, he broke down and began to weep. After a few moments he was able to speak and with tears streaming down his face told the judge that he had committed many murders - more than he could remember.

“How could you be guilty of such enormities like these?” asked the judge.

Taking his worn Bible from his pocket and holding it up for the judge to see, he replied, “Had I but received this Book as a child, this book of Jesus, my Savior whom I now worship, I would not have done such horrible things.” God’s Word changed His life. 

“Exalt the Lord, our God, and worship at His footstool; He is holy,” proclaims the Psalmist. A lonely missionary serving in a remote country shared God’s Word and a life was redeemed. Whose life can you change by sharing His words of hope today? 

Prayer: We pray, Father, that we will open our hearts to the message of Your Word and share its truth. May we work with You to bring life and hope. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Exalt the Lord, our God, and worship at His footstool; He is holy. Psalm 99:5

How Did It Happen?

Some years ago, the cover of Time magazine asked an intriguing question on its cover: “What ever happened to ethics?” The subtitle continued, saying that we have been, “Assaulted by sleaze, scandals and hypocrisy, America searches for its moral bearings.” There is little doubt that there has been a loss of moral sensitivity and responsibility, and it is very obvious. For most, it is difficult to watch television and not be offended by the language or scenes of indecency. A new “language” with matching images, has been introduced that has no respect for God or godly principles.

The only way to solve this problem of moral decay would be through a national revival of principled decency founded on God’s principles. If those of us who profess to trust God’s Word and believe in the fact that He will do what He says He will do, it is not unreasonable that revival will come. A spiritual awakening will visit our nation if we have enough faith, persevere in prayer, and regain a sense of the holiness of God.

Psalm 99:1 describes what would happen if we did regain a new sense of the presence and holiness, justice and righteousness of God. Because “the Lord reigns, let the nations tremble, He sits enthroned between the cherubim, let the earth tremble.”

This awesome picture of God that the Psalmist presents to us describes His holiness, power, might and majesty. This description of God is not one that we are familiar with since our minds have become so “clouded” with the things of this world. Certainly, we can blame the producers for the programs we watch, but they would not produce what they do without us watching, enjoying, and applauding it. 

Prayer: Lord, may we be alert to “recognize” the dangers of what we see and hear and reject impure thoughts. Cleanse our hearts and minds. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: The Lord reigns, let the nations tremble, He sits enthroned between the cherubim, let the earth tremble. Psalm 99:1

Seeing Is Believing

A youth pastor and his “Win One Now” team were passing out tracts and talking to a group of young people in New York one Saturday evening. A gang leader went up to him and shouted, “I’m sick and tired of you people talking about love. I’ve never seen love so if you’ve got it let me see it!”

How many others want to see “it?” We talk about love, sing about love, preach about love but the world is still trying to discover what love looks like. Someone once said they wanted to see “love with skin on it.” And that’s what God’s love is all about. He did not speak of an empty, self-serving love - but a love that can be seen and studied and shared and duplicated and, by God’s grace, passes all human understanding.

The Psalmist said that “The Lord has made His salvation known.”  How? Through God’s faithfulness to protect and provide for the well-being of the children of Israel. He made His salvation known by His faithfulness and the fulfillment of His covenant with His children. There are no short cuts to proving what true love, God-love, is. It is not emotionally driven or sentimental. It sustained and supported Israel. That was then.

This is now. Years ago, God sent His one and only begotten Son to be born in a manger, live a sinless life, die on a despised cross and after suffering, scorned, stabbed, and shamed, be resurrected from a borrowed tomb. Then, once again, made “His salvation known.” This is His love - a love we can see. It is “love with skin on it!”

If the world cannot see this love, we who are His disciples have only ourselves to blame. All around us are people waiting and wanting to see “love with skin on it.”

Prayer:  Forgive us who profess to be Christians, Father, if we fail to show Your love. May we live Your “love with skin on it” so others can know You! In Jesus’s Name, Amen!

Scripture For Today: The Lord has made his salvation known and revealed his righteousness to the nations. Psalm 98:2


It is a day I will always remember. It was hot and humid, and the black gowns and colorful “hoods” provoked more sweat than satisfaction. It was a day that brought three long and difficult years of study to a conclusion, and I was now going to be identified as “Doctor Guido!”

As I stood in a line with my classmates who had struggled with me, we could not help but wonder what changes the degree would make in our lives. A new day had dawned. Things would be different for us from that day forward. We would have new opportunities and new status. People would look at us differently. It was time to celebrate. We believed that we had earned it! But only if we could find it!

Psalm 98 begins with a call to celebrate: “Sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done marvelous things.” This call to celebrate was not for anything that the people did or had accomplished. It was indeed a call for celebration. But it was a call to celebrate the “marvelous things” that God had done for them. This phrase “marvelous things” refers to God’s direct, supernatural interventions in the life of “His people.” It refers to God’s power and authority, His protection and care, His interest in the well-being of His people on His earth. And as important as those gifts of God are, they cannot compare to the gift of His salvation and hope.

There are many special events and days in our lives and the life of our nation that give us reasons to celebrate. But nothing provides a greater cause or reason for us to celebrate than the hope we have in Christ our Lord!

Prayer:  Lord, fill our hearts with this “New Song.” May we find a song of joy to celebrate Your gift of salvation! May we enjoy our life in You. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!  

Scripture For Today: Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things. Psalm 98:1

My God! My Joy!

A professor of philosophy stood before his class and said, “The whole world is desperately searching for joy and happiness. But no one has been able to find its source. Psychologists cannot find it, physicians cannot find it, comedians cannot find it. It has eluded everyone. Some feel that they have been close to its source only to discover that they were on the wrong path. It is so very illusive and all of us are left disillusioned and disappointed.”

Even the word “happiness” is deceptive. It gives itself away. The root of the word is “hap” which means “chance.” Human happiness is dependent on the chances and changes in life. It is something which life may give and then suddenly take away.

A diagnosis of cancer, a crash in the stock market, a new management team at work - even a change in the weather - can take away the passing sensation of joy and happiness.

But there is a sure, certain source of joy and happiness - or gladness as the Bible calls it - that is available to everyone who seeks it. It cannot be destroyed or disturbed; it provides a serenity that is immovable. It “covers” loss and grief, pain and sickness, darkness and death. No one or nothing can destroy it.  Where can we find it?

The writer of Psalm 97 said, “Lord, may Your people rejoice in You; and praise Your holy name.” God will give His everlasting joy and gladness to those who place their faith, hope and trust in Jesus Christ, His Son. His peace and presence are promised to those who find the source of their life in Him. And, You will find Me if You seek me with Your heart.

Prayer:  We thank You, Heavenly Father, for the joy that is ours today and every day through Your Son our Savior. May we rely on Him for His joy. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: May all who are godly rejoice in the Lord and praise his holy name! Psalm 97:12

Light In Dark Places

It was Jim’s birthday, and his dad wanted it to be one he would long remember. So, he decided to take him to the Christian bookstore to buy him a picture of Jesus that he could hang in his room.

Upon entering the store, he said, “Son, which picture of Jesus do you want for your room? Look around carefully and then tell me which one you want.”

After looking at most of the pictures in the store very carefully, he said, “Dad, I want a picture of Jesus that will shine in my room when it is dark.”

We live in a world filled with darkness that would, if it could, put out the light of God. But this is nothing new. Jesus said, “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds are evil.”

Jesus brought the light of God into a world that has been darkened by sin. But His light has a condition to it: it must be received through faith in what He did for us on the cross. Those who receive Him are made righteous, and they see His light in the darkness.

Hear what the Psalmist said, “Light is shed upon those who are righteous - the godly.” His light dissipates the darkness of despair and brings the hope of eternal life.

In Him we are no longer victims but victors and through Him we need no longer fear the darkness and despair that surround the lost and those facing death.

It was King David who once said, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for You are with me ... shedding Your light, giving hope”

Prayer:  What a comfort it is, Lord, to know that You are the Light of the world and our lives and will always be our Guide. Thank You for being our hope. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Light shines on the righteous. Psalm 97:11a

Safe In God's Arms

Whenever we go to a physician for care, we are normally greeted by someone who takes our “vital signs” and then asks us to describe our “symptoms” - our reason for wanting to talk with a physician. These symptoms or vital signs are indicators - early warning signs - of a deeper or more serious condition that describes an illness or potential health issue that may require some sort of treatment.

One of the gifts that we have through the grace and mercy of God is His love that surrounds us and His arms that protect us. “He guards the lives of His faithful,” wrote the Psalmist, “and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.” Our God is there to prevent the “illnesses” caused by sin that could destroy us who want to be faithful to Him.

One of the most influential saints of God was C.I. Scofield. He is the author of the Scofield Study Bible - no doubt one of the most widely used and perhaps most influential study Bible that was ever published.

“Shortly after my conversion,” he once wrote, “I saw a picture of Daniel in the den of lions. His hands were behind him, and the lions were circling him. It reminded me of myself. The one thing I was in fear of was that I might go back to my sins. But as I stood before that picture, a great hope and faith came into my heart. I said, ‘Why these lions are all about me - my old habits and sins - the God that shut the mouths of the lions for Daniel can shut them for me.’ And He did!”

God promises that He will guard us and guide us, defend us and deliver us from the “hand of the wicked.” But only if we are faithful to call on Him!

Prayer:  Thank You, Father, that we may look to You for deliverance from the sins that would so easily destroy us. May we find protection in Your care. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: He guards the lives of His faithful and delivers them from the hand of the wicked. Psalm 97:10b

What Kind Of Love Is This?

“You know how much I love you, Josie - more than anyone or anything in the world!” began his text message. “Can’t wait until I see you this evening. Will be there if I don’t go to the ball game with Rob. Love, Steve.”

It didn’t take Josie long to erase the message and text her friend Ruth asking if they could get together for dinner. She had trouble understanding that kind of love. And so does God. We say one thing to Him and then live a life that is entirely inconsistent with His understanding of what love is and what He expects us to do if we love Him.

“You who love the Lord,” said the Psalmist, “hate evil!” That is a very straight forward, simple statement. It is one of Scriptures If/Then challenges that God puts in our pathway. Stated another way, we might ask, “If we don’t hate evil, then do we truly love God? And, if we hate evil, how will our lives show those around us that we do?

Loving God means that we will do whatever is necessary to align ourselves with His plan and purpose for His creation by how we live. We will work with Him to reach out to those around us with a heart full of His love and show them His grace and mercy. We will be uncomfortable if we know of someone, somewhere who needs something that we have that we can share with them that will bring hope and healing to their lives.

People who lie abandoned in convalescent homes, and children who are abused through no fault of their own, and individuals who crave a smile and a hug need to know that “we love the Lord.” They will if we reach out. We will know if we will do!

Prayer:  Trouble our hearts and minds, Father, and give us no peace if we know someone in need and do nothing! May we honor You by doing. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Let those who love the Lord hate evil. Psalm 97:10a

"I'm Really Afraid Of Him"

Little Johnny clutched his blanket tightly and pulled it up under his chin. His Dad was reading a bedtime story about God, Noah, and the flood. When he finished, his Dad asked what he liked best about the story.

“Nothing! I’m afraid God will flood our house, and all my toys will be gone!” he replied.

Many people only see that side of God. Whenever there is a disaster or a tragedy, they point a finger and say, “What kind of a god would do that? See, that’s why I can’t believe in him. I can’t trust him. He’s cruel and inhumane, uncaring and unconcerned.”

Psalm 97 seems to add to the confusion. It begins with a statement about the Lord reigning and that we ought to be glad and rejoice. Then the Psalmist writes, “Clouds and thick darkness surround Him, righteousness and justice are the foundations of His throne.” If that is the only picture of God that people have, no wonder they are frightened. Most people would be. Surely, that view of God is distasteful and disgusting.

But what did the Psalmist mean when he wrote those words? He is reminding us that God exposes and expresses Himself on His terms and in His time and where He chooses. Our God is a Holy God - and He, in love and compassion, made Himself available ultimately and completely through His Son. When we read that He is surrounded by “clouds and darkness,” it does not mean that He is hiding from us and is unapproachable. Not at all. Only that we come to Him on His terms. What are His terms?

Jesus defined them: “No one comes to the Father except through Me!” When we accept Christ as our Savior, He enters our life and nothing can separate us from Him, and we can know Him as He is: a God who cares, who is close, and who saves!

Prayer:  Thank You, Lord, for Your Son our Savior. We cannot understand all Your ways. Give us a faith to trust as well as to believe and accept Your love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Scripture For Today: Clouds and thick darkness surround Him, righteousness and justice are the foundations of His throne. Psalm 97:2

The Lord Reigns!

“Religion is an illusion of the emotions,” declared Sigmund Freud, the psychiatrist, “and its funeral is at hand.” And Frederick Nietzsche one day announced, “God is dead!”

No doubt that their gods died with them, but our God is alive and well and active in our lives! Shouted the Psalmist in Psalm 97:1, “The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad!”

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” wrote Moses. And He never abandoned nor cast aside His role in managing and controlling it. He continues to be the sole source and sustainer of all its life, the strength in all its movements, and the power behind its journey.

The earth spins like a top at 1,000 miles per hour without ever speeding up or slowing down so that we might have a predictable number of hours for each day and night. It is tilted at a specific angle that causes our seasons. And these two facts are only the beginning of the marvelous miracles of our planet. And why is this so? To demonstrate the fact that “The Lord reigns” – that our God will never surrender His power and control.

Our sun maintains a temperature that is warm enough to sustain us but never hot enough to burn us or freeze us to death when winter arrives. Why this consistency that we never question? “The Lord reigns” – that our God will always protect and care for us.

Wherever we look and whatever we study, we see a pattern of consistency and continuity, predictability and potential. God does reign. God does rule. Our God loves us!

Prayer:  We thank You, Lord, that You reign over all Your creation. May we grant You entrance into our hear that You may also reign in our lives, too. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice. Psalm 97:1

God Will Judge!

Robert G. Ingersoll is recognized as one of the most influential agnostics who ever lived. One night in New York he was dramatically and forcefully giving a lecture that explained his doubts about judgment and hell. When the gifted lecturer finished his address, a man who was very drunk stumbled his way to the front of the auditorium and said in slobbering terms, “I sure hope you are right, Brother Bob. I sure hope you are right because I’m counting on that!” He wanted to be free to live as he pleased.

Few today want to think of God as a Judge. It is much more pleasant to think of Him as a loving, caring, compassionate and gracious Father - which He certainly is – than one who will “judge the world by His standards of right-ness.” Many would apologize for considering their God in such terms – one who would act in the role of “Judge.”

There are many who want to fashion Him after their own likes and dislikes and endow Him with the nature and character they would like Him to possess. They want to make Him consistent with their own wishful thinking so that they will be comfortable in their sins. Their god has the attributes of our God in that He is compassionate and loving but they refuse to accept the fact that His character also contains wrath and justice. This would mean that there would be no judgment and no punishment for wrongs people do to others and His Creation. However, our God is a Righteous God and demands right living.

But our God, Who is a righteous God and demands that we “live right,” is also a loving and accepting God and will forgive us when we fail Him if we ask Him for His mercy. 

Prayer:  Help us, Lord, to live in the light of Your love as well as Your judgment. May we live as You would have us to live so we will one day hear, “Well done!” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his faithfulness. Psalm 96:13

Worthy Of Praise

Bud Wilkerson, a nationally respected football coach, was once asked by a reporter, “Coach, how much has football contributed to the nation’s desire to be physically fit?”

Looking at the reporter, he said, “Nothing - not one thing.”

Surprised, the reporter asked, “Would you care to elaborate on that?”

“Certainly,” said Wilkerson. “I define football as twenty-two men on a field desperately needing rest and forty-thousand people in the stands desperately needing exercise.”

The writer of Psalm 96 must have thought the same way the coach did. “For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise.” Here the Psalmist is talking about those who are in the stands cheering and shouting about God’s greatness. But before the cheering were those who took God’s message of hope to the lost and searching - those who were on the “field” were involved in a battle for the souls around them - the “players”- who were “declaring God’s glory and marvelous deeds” and “sharing and proclaiming His salvation!”

John R. Stott once said, “If a man has religion, he must do one of two things with it. If it is false, he must give it up. And if it is true, he must give it away.”

Imagine how loud the shouts would be in church if we had more people on the field battling for the lives of the lost and wandering? We must “play” harder if we want cheers.

Prayer:  We pray, Father, that we may work more seriously with You to reach the lost. Renew our strength for the battles we face and give us victory. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise. Psalm 96:4a

Showing His Salvation

“Brother,” said St. Francis of Assisi to a young monk who had just entered the monastery, “let’s go to town and preach.” They left the monastery and walked to the town and did not say a word to each other or the people they passed by in the marketplace. After several hours they retraced their steps and returned to the monastery.

The young monk wondered what was going on.  After waiting for what seemed like an eternity, he finally broke his silence and asked, “I thought we were going to town to preach to the people. Why didn’t we stop and preach?”

“But we have been preaching,” replied St. Francis. “As we walked, we were observed: people watched our manners, our faces, our behavior, and our clothes; and what they saw and observed represented what we stood for. We have been preaching.”

All of us “preach” all the time. Our behavior is our message and our places of interest become our pulpits. Our lives are lectures, and our pursuits are examples of our priorities. People watch us even as we watch them. And each time we pass from view and our words can no longer be heard, our sermons end. But a decision has been made about our values and what we believe is important. Our sermon is what we said and did. 

The problem we face today is not the quantity of Christians but the quality of their lives. And if we want to win more, we must be more. How different would the world be if when we “declared God’s glory and goodness,” we also “lived God’s love and grace.” How we live our lives is more important than the words we speak.

Prayer:  Lord, give us an awareness that we are “preaching” Your message by what we do. May our lives represent who You are. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Proclaim his salvation day after day. Psalm 96:2b

Time For A New Song?

Sunday church bulletins quite often reveal more than the words printed on them. Other than the date on the front of the bulletin, the order of service changes very little. There seems to be three important words that appear every Sunday in every order of service: Invocation, Offering and Benediction. In between those words are the hymns, Scripture, and special music which are “recycled” from week to week. But there is little new or different. Even contemporary worship services seem to follow the same format and formula week after week.

Sounds boring, doesn’t it?

Perhaps that’s why Psalm 96:1 explodes with a challenge: “Sing to the Lord a NEW SONG!” - which literally means “SING NEW THINGS!” If God is alive and well in our lives and in our churches, we will surely be seeing new things and singing new songs because we will see Him at work in our lives and in the life of our churches. Prayers will be answered, and lives changed, sinners will be saved, and His disciples will be called to serve Him in new and different ways - showing His love and care to those around us. We will have to rearrange the order of service to make time for public praise to share what God is doing and sing new songs of praise for the blessings we are enjoying!

And then in verse two we read, “Proclaim His salvation day after day!” When the proclamation of His salvation and its rewards is the centerpiece of our world and worship, we will be overcome with His joy and discover “new songs to sing!”

Prayer:  Lord, may we accept Your challenge to sing a “new song” as we live and experience Your great salvation. May our joy from You be real! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Psalm 96:1

Are You Listening?

A family in Calgary, Alberta, Canada purchased a well-trained and very expensive guard dog to protect their home and belongings. It brought them great peace and comfort and reduced their fears of someone invading their home.

One evening as the family gathered together to watch their favorite television program, the dog began to bark. “Hush, Sarge,” said the father. But Sarge refused to stop barking and looked anxiously from one family member to another. They refused to be bothered as they watched the show. It was too entertaining.

Finally, the program was over, and the father excused himself and went upstairs to go to bed. As he entered his bedroom, he realized that the dog had been trying to get their attention. A thief had carefully and quietly entered their home, opened their safe and stolen their most valuable possessions. The repeated warnings of the dog could not get their attention to alert them to danger. The value of his warnings went unheeded.

“Today,” (or - a more literal translation - “listen to Me now”) warned the Psalmist, “if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts!” Often God tries to “get our attention” to warn us of impending dangers. He does His best to speak to us through His Word or a friend, a verse of Scripture or a sermon. He reaches out to us in love and compassion - anxious to warn us of the attractiveness of self-destructive behaviors that destroy us. The power of temptation blinds us from seeing destruction that awaits us. But, like the family in Canada, we are so often too involved in the things of this world to hear His warning.

Prayer:  Lord, open our ears to hear, our eyes to see, and our minds to be alert to the temptations we face constantly. May we listen for Your voice. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Today, if only you would hear his voice, Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah. Psalm 95:7b-8

The Great God Who Is Our God!

Little Mary Beth was ill and unable to attend church. When her father went into her room to see how she was doing, she asked, “What did the preacher preach about this morning?”

“God,” was his response as he felt her forehead to see if she had a temperature.

“God?” she asked. “Was He our God?”

What a difference the simple word “our” makes! We worship Him because we belong to Him. And, even more than our Creator, He is our Redeemer who, through the work of His Son on the cross, reclaimed us as His children to become His very own!

Our worship leader wrote in Psalm 95:3 that “The Lord is a great God.” As he continued to write, he emphasized the fact that this God “is our God!” This God whom we worship is a personal God - our very own God. He wants us to understand the implications of this important fact: God has redeemed us - reclaimed us - through the work of His Son on the cross, and we now belong to Him.

As he continues to write about our God, he draws a picture that illustrates our relationship to Him. He reminds us that “we are the people of His pasture and the flocks under His care.” How very touching! Our God is the good shepherd who feeds His people in His pasture and protects them with His hand. But the picture does not end there. This picture only becomes complete when Jesus declared Himself as the “Good Shepherd who lays down His life for His sheep.”

Prayer:  We thank You, Lord, for being our God. May we honor You each day of our lives as we make You the “centerpiece” in all we do and bless Your name. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. Psalm 95:3, 7a

Worthy Of Worship

Everyone seems to worship someone or something for one reason or another. Early in life we realize that we need help to survive and cannot make it on our own. Initially it is a parent or a parent-substitute that is there to help us. Then, as we get older and become more independent, we begin to realize that there are other sources to meet our needs. We begin to look to them for what they can do for us or perhaps give to us in exchange for our allegiance or respect. We think that they will bring or give us something we need. It’s only natural. In return for a gift, we often worship or praise the giver.

The question is not whether we worship - but what or whom we worship. It can be fame or fortune, power or prestige, a person or a philosophy, someone or something that we believe is greater than ourselves and will bring us peace and happiness, joy and satisfaction. It is someone or something that we believe is superior to us, and we are willing to surrender and submit ourselves to it. But really, it only reveals our lostness and our need for Someone Who is above us, beyond us - yet cares for us.

The Psalmist invites us to, “Come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.” He wants us to recognize the superiority and sufficiency of God our Creator. Once we acknowledged God as our Creator, we immediately recognize Him as the source of all that we have or ever will have. Worship becomes God-centered and not man or thing centered. Worship results in submitting our lives to God and recognizing His grace and sovereignty as we bow before Him in awe, thanking Him for His gifts.

Prayer:  Lord, we join the Psalmist in worship and praise and thank You for Your never-ending gifts. Open our eyes and hearts to see Your generosity. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. Psalm 95:6

Everyone Has A Part

Martin Luther, who is recognized for his work in reforming the church, had one deep desire that drove him every day of his life: he wanted everyone to have a copy of the Bible and a song book in their own language. He had an unswerving belief that people needed God to speak to them directly through His Word and the songs they sang during times of worship at home. This was not a new idea, but one that had its beginnings in the earliest churches as they gathered together to worship the Lord.

Music and God’s Word have always been a very important ingredient in worship. When there is joy in the hearts of the faithful, praising God is a natural part of life and is always evident in times of worship. With shame and sorrow, the Hebrews, when they were captives of Babylon, admitted this in Psalm 137:4. As their captors ridiculed them, they said, “How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?” Sin separated them from their God, and they lost the joy of their salvation. Sin does the same in our lives.

In the Old Testament we find many occasions of God’s children coming together to sing and shout and praise the Lord. In Psalm 95:1 the “worship leader” looked at the crowd before him and said let’s “sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.” That invitation remains open to us today.

When we pause and ponder the grace and goodness of God in saving us and becoming our “Rock” - our only source of safety and security - it is a great time to lift our voices in worship. Scripture often reminds us that “He has put a new song in our heart!”

Prayer:  Help us, Father, to rejoice in the goodness of Your grace and lift our voices in shouts of joy and praise. May our songs of joy be pleasing to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Psalm 95:1

Anxiety And Faith

Everyone feels anxious at one time or another. It is a normal part of life. It is our body’s way of telling us that something might be wrong - that we might be facing some potential danger or are feeling symptoms of an illness. If we had no feelings of anxiety, we might put ourselves in all kinds of danger that could end up in disaster.

Anxiety for the Christian, however, can be more. It may be an “early warning system” that God has put in our hearts, through the Holy Spirit, to get our attention to let us know that something may be going wrong in our walk with Him.  It’s His way of letting us know that He wants us to make things right with Him. Immediately!

God has many ways to use anxiety to get our attention. He may trouble our hearts when we read His word, listen to a hymn, hear a sermon, speak with Him in prayer, see a picture of His children suffering, or when we are having a conversation with a friend. His Spirit is always at work in our hearts, and it is good to be troubled with anxiety that comes from God. It’s His way of getting our attention. He gives us a “nudge!”

The writer of Psalm 94 was having a huge problem with anxiety. He must have been deeply troubled by many things that were overwhelming him and seemingly beyond his control. Note his words: “When anxiety was great within me” - not simply a minor incident, but something very, very troubling. Something GREAT! 

Then note what happened: Your “consolation” or perhaps better understood is the word, “comfort” – YOUR comfort brought joy to my soul.” It is like Jesus saying, “Let not Your heart be troubled. Believe in me. This is my plan for You. Trust Me.”

Prayer:  Help us, Father, to realize that You love us so much You often trouble our hearts to get our attention. When this happens, may we seek Your peace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy. Psalm 94:19

An Important Warning!

The road to spiritual, mental, and physical healing is often long and difficult. Sometimes it takes us through periods of dark days and endless nights when it seems as though we are left to survive on our own. We struggle and strain and worry and work but it seems as though we will be left to our own designs.

There is great advice in today’s verse: “When I said, ‘My foot is slipping,’ Your love, O Lord, supported me.” Before the Psalmist fell, he recognized that he was facing a situation, having to solve a problem, or making a decision that could have been disastrous to his well-being. So, he did not wait until calling on God was too late - that his need for the grace of God would be too late and be out maneuvered by Satan. When he realized that his foot was slipping, he called on God immediately, and God’s love supported him! He did not need to ask for forgiveness - he asked God to intervene immediately and sustain him.

As Paul brought his second letter to Timothy to a close, he must have had this verse in mind. “Timothy,” he wrote, “the Lord stood at my side and gave me the strength that I needed, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and that all the Gentiles might hear it.”

Paul recognized how important it was for him to depend on God’s strength and not his own. He knew that the battle was not his but the Lord’s. So, rather than let his witness be destroyed, He called on God. Who do you call on in times of need?  

Prayer: Father, help us to realize that our strength is limited but Yours is not. May we learn to depend on You before we slip, not after we fall. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: When I said, ‘My foot is slipping,’ Your love, O Lord, supported me. Psalm 94:18

Hope When We Need It

There is a big difference between power and influence. Power comes from a position we have in a group or organization. We gain influence by what we know or are able to do. In our relationship with God, He has all the power, and He uses it to shape us into the plan He has for us. But we can go to Him in prayer and ask Him to grant us His power to overcome some sin or problem in our life and bring His hope, help, healing, and wholeness to us or our loved ones when we are sick or broken.

Our Psalmist reminds us of this important fact. When we feel alone or abandoned, depressed or have doubts about God’s care or concern for us, he reminds us to look to God for help: “Unless the Lord had given me help, I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death.”

Unfortunately, we do not know what was going on in the life of this writer. He may have been facing a life-threatening illness, grieving over the loss of a loved one, or perhaps facing financial disaster. He reminds us that “it” made no difference. Whatever problem he was facing or whatever disaster may have been on the horizon or whatever sickness may have stricken him, no one could have made a difference in his life but God.

“Unless the Lord...,” he wrote. Not “unless I find someone” or “a friend helps me find” the right physician or the right attorney or the right banker. No. He realized his limitations and knew that it was beyond his power or ability to influence or change the situation.  But he knew from experience that only God’s hand could rescue him.

Prayer:  What a blessed reality it is, Lord, to know that You have the power to solve any problem we have. But first, we must go to You for help. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Unless the Lord had given me help, I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death. Psalm 94:17

When Does "Never" End?

Can you remember a time in your life when you thought, “God has abandoned me! I can’t find Him anywhere! When I pray, my words bounce back from the sky, and when I cry, God won’t wipe away my tears. What did I do to deserve this?”

Often in our journey to become disciples of Christ, we resent the discipline that comes with our calling. We want the journey to be sunshine and flowers and not lightning and thunderstorms. Yet, in the midst of those times of struggle, we do indeed wonder. No doubt that’s why the Psalmist gave us some choice words of comfort: “The Lord will not abandon or reject His people, He will never forsake His inheritance.”

The Bible tells us of two men who “went out from the presence of the Lord.” One was Cain and the other Jonah. When Cain went out, the Lord left Him alone. He chose not to go after him and bring him back into His presence. But when Jonah went out, the Lord did not choose to leave him alone. Why the difference? Cain was not one of the Lord’s - but Jonah was.

Jonah was disobedient to the calling of God but was finally willing to accept God’s discipline. He had a terrible time surrendering to God, but God never left him because he did want God’s will for his life. God stayed with Jonah and disciplined him because he accepted God’s plan for his life. Cain was different. He refused to honor God and do what was right. And God rejected him because he would not give God his best. What about you? Are you willing to become like Jonah? The results are amazing.

Prayer:  Father, may our hearts always be open to hear Your voice and answer You in sincerity and love. May we be accepting to obey Your call. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: The Lord will not abandon or reject His people, He will never forsake His inheritance. Psalm 94:14

Pain Management

“This is going to hurt me more than it does you,” said the father to his young son as he took him from the family room for interrupting our conversation. I’d heard that statement many times and always wondered what the parent wanted the child to understand when it was used. If it was used to redirect a child’s behavior and teach him or her an important lesson about life, why not say so? That’s what the author of Psalm 94 meant when he wrote, “If God disciplines you, consider yourself blessed” or “full of blessings!”

To “discipline” in Scripture means “to teach.” Discipline is not punishment as we understand it - though it may involve suffering and loss, disappointment and feelings of rejection. When God disciplines us, it is His method to bring us back to live within His commandments and laws and the teachings of Jesus. It is about “getting our attention” when we are overcome by temptation and fall into sin. It’s about being confronted by God when He corrects us for allowing the “things or the people or the attractions of this world” to take His place. It is about worshiping those things rather than the Creator of those things. It’s about bringing us back to reality – God’s reality

One of the blessings of discipline is that it has long term benefits for the Christian. If, in His mercy, He brings loss or suffering to teach us a lesson today, and if we are willing to learn from the loss or suffering when it happens, then we will be spared from greater losses or more suffering in the future - and bring more honor to Him.

Prayer:  May we understand, Father, that when You discipline us, it is a sign of Your love and care for us. May we learn from You to live for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Blessed is the one you discipline, Lord, the one you teach from your law; Psalm 94:12

The Eyes Have It!

Returning to earth after several orbital circles in outer space, a Russian cosmonaut proudly boasted, “I looked everywhere, but I didn’t see God.” That statement made me wonder what evidence would have been acceptable to him to prove that there is a God. Paul once wrote, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities - His eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen.”

The eye, our “window to the world,” seems to be a very special part of God’s creation. But before the eye was formed, in His unfathomable wisdom, a process was set in motion: “Let there be light!” He ordered. For us to see anything light must be reflected off an object to form a “picture” or the eye is useless.

Before God created our eyes, He prepared a special place for them: He formed the bones of the skull to give them a safe place to do their work. He then fashioned our eyelids to keep out dirt and dust and made eyebrows to keep glaring light from damaging them. Finally, He developed a lubricating process to keep our eyes moist and clean by causing tears to flow.

Finally, there is the cornea. It allows rays of light to pass through the iris and form a scene in our brain. And here the process becomes complete: Our brain takes what we see and enables us to make sense of God’s creation, love, and salvation through His word.

“Seeing” God, however, takes more than the eye. “If you search for Me with all your heart, you’ll find Me.”  What are you looking for?  

Prayer:  Open our hearts, Father, as well as our eyes to discover Your beauty and majesty, love and salvation. Thank You for giving us eyes to see! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Does he who formed the eye not see? Psalm 94:9

Does God Really Care?

“You know, Larry,” he began in a soft voice, “I’m troubled by the fact that all of the horrible things I see on TV or hear over the radio when I travel don’t bother me as much as they once did. What’s happening to me?” he asked.

We all wonder, at one time or another, how a group of people can watch a person being beaten or robbed or fall ill in a crowded mall or on a busy street corner, and no one responds and gives help. We see the ravages of war, watch people die on a battlefield, see disabled veterans trying to adjust to life with artificial limbs, and seem to accept it as “normal” in today’s culture. It seems as though the pain and suffering of others matter little to anyone except the one enduring the hardships.

The Psalmist who wrote Psalm 94 was troubled by the evil in the world. He looked around and saw people oppressed. He was aware of calloused leaders whose only concern was for themselves. He was troubled by the lack of concern for widows and children, and asked, “God, if You created ears for people to hear, and eyes for people to see, why don’t You hear the cries and see the suffering of those whom You created?” Where are You, God? Do something, God!

So, has God, like us, become insensitive to the needs of people and the condition of the world? Does He not care about what is happening to His creation? Indeed, He does. That is why He has entrusted the care of His creation to us!

“He will repay them and destroy them for their wickedness,” says the Psalmist. But until He does, we are responsible to bring His hope and healing to those suffering.

Prayer:  Please, Lord, soften our hardened hearts and open our calloused minds to see, reach out, and help those who are suffering. It’s our duty! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: How long, Lord, will the wicked, how long will the wicked be jubilant? He will repay them for their sins and destroy them for their wickedness; the Lord our God will destroy them. Psalm 94:3 and 23

Words You Can Depend On

One morning as I was leaving my first speech class, my wise teacher stopped me and offered me a few words of advice on the importance of being well prepared to serve God. During our conversation she advised me to take every course that had anything to do with speaking or writing. “Larry,” she said in a voice that reflected sincerity and compassion, “it does not matter how much you know about the Bible, if you can’t explain it so people can understand it, accept it, and live it, you’ll be letting God down.” It made good sense to me then, and even more sense to me now. Thankfully, I followed her recommendation carefully.

One of the classes I took emphasized the difficulty of people hearing what a speaker says, interpreting it correctly, and passing it on. It is easy to hear what someone says but quite difficult to pass it on without changing the words and the meaning that the speaker intended. When this happens, something is lost in “transmission,” and it could be a matter of life and death if the message passed on is incorrect or inconsistent.

The importance of the integrity of God’s message is clearly presented in Psalm 93:5, “Your statues stand firm!” That means “Whatever God said is so.” His Word contains no errors, no mistakes, and no information that can lead us astray if accepted as written. In fact, the word for statues emphasizes the fact that Scripture rests on the integrity of God our Creator. His statements, promises, warnings, and commands are not to be changed to meet the desires of man but to proclaim and present the everlasting covenant of His love, mercy, grace, salvation, and hope between God and man.

Prayer:  We thank You, Lord, for the trustworthiness of Your Word that declares the Way, the Truth and the Life. Help us to know it, love it, and share it. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Your statutes, Lord, stand firm; holiness adorns your house for endless days. Psalm 93:5

Who Made God?

A small child recently asked me, “Mr. Larry, I believe there is a God. And I know He’s in my heart. But who made Him?”

“Nobody,” I answered.

“Well, when did He begin to live?” she asked politely.

“He always was,” I replied.

“Well, will He ever stop living?” she wondered.

“No,” I answered. “He always was, and always will be,” I responded.

“But,” she admitted, “I don’t understand.”

“Neither do I,” came my confession.

We who are finite cannot ever understand the Infinite.

Every rational person who is endowed with a mind that has the capacity to reason finds unanswerable questions about God - even in early childhood. The search for God, at an early age, is significant. Obviously, this question about God arising in the mind of a child seems to provide convincing evidence that there is a compassionate Creator who has planted Himself in the mind and heart and very being of everyone. Otherwise, why would anyone, especially a child, ask the question, “Is there a God?”

Questions about the existence of God are nothing new. God Himself put a curiosity within each of us to ask questions and seek answers. If we did not have a capacity to question things, we would not be human. Remember, it was God who said, “You will find Me when You seek Me with all your heart.” All seeking hearts find God.

Prayer:  We thank You, Lord, that You created us with minds to seek You, and the truth we find in Your Word that reveals You. May we seek and find. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: You are from all eternity. Psalm 93:2b

What's Going On Here?

Not long ago I was stopped by a police officer who motioned to me to pull to the side of the street. When I looked up to see what was going on, I saw two large trucks coming toward me with a home that had been cut in half and placed on two trailers. The two halves were slowly being moved to a new location where they would be joined together, and the home would look the same as it had in the past.

It was almost unnerving as I waited patiently for them to pass by. For years it rested comfortably on a corner across from an elementary school. Soon it would have a new address in a new neighborhood and perhaps new owners.

How things have changed. Years ago, people rarely moved from one home to another. There was a certain permanence in life that brought a sense of security to families. Now, moving from one place to another is a routine part of life that seems to go with the turmoil in the world.

Everywhere we look, we see signs of instability. We awaken each morning wondering what devastating news awaits us. What once was a world that made sense and was stable is now a world that longs for the “good old days.”

Psalm 93, however, gives comfort to the Christian. It begins with a burst of hope and assurance, a promise of peace and predictability: “The LORD reigns.”

But more than the way it begins, is the way it ends. It concludes with a reminder and a promise of God’s faithfulness: “Your statues stand firm...for endless days!”

Prayer:  Thank You, Heavenly Father, that we can believe in Your Word and trust Your promises and power to protect us and give us hope! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty; the Lord is robed in majesty and armed with strength; indeed, the world is established, firm and secure. Psalm 93:1

Aging In God's Grace

Watching children grow into adulthood can be a marvelous experience. From crawling to walking, from uttering sounds that make no sense to carrying on an intelligent conversation is almost breathtaking. Growth is a gift of God and can bring blessings and happiness - especially when we grow into the likeness of Christ and share His love and grace with those around us.

The Amplified Bible provides a rich translation of Psalm 92:14. “Growing in grace,” writes the Psalmist, “they shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be full of spiritual vitality and rich in expressing trust, love and contentment.”

Growth, for the Christian, is a lifelong journey. And those who grow in His grace and are filled with His mercy have much to live for and share with others. Imagine the satisfaction of having lived a life that honors God’s Word, lives God’s Good News and expresses His love. Can there be anything more important for the Christian than becoming stronger in our faith, clearer in our convictions, warmer in our love, purer in our thoughts and kinder in our words and deeds as we grow older and more mature in Christ?

We live in a broken world. Everywhere we look, we see people who have been betrayed by those whom they dearly loved and trusted. We see people writhing in pain and anguish as they search for someone to offer them hope and encouragement. We dare not let them down. We must honor them and help them heal with His hope!

What a wonderful opportunity God has given us.

Prayer:  Help us, Heavenly Father, to see the world as You see it and work with You to share Your love and grace. Open our hearts to share Your word. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: [Growing in grace] they will still thrive and bear fruit and prosper in old age; They will flourish and be vital and fresh [rich in trust and love and contentment]. Psalm 92:14

Flourish Like A Palm Tree

The word “righteous” in Scripture carries with it the idea of meeting God’s standards of doing what is right in the sight of God - being obedient to Him and being just and fair to others. If the “righteous are to flourish like palm trees” as the psalmist states, what does that mean?

1.  Palm trees grow straight up - always looking upward to heaven for light and nourishment. Likewise, the Christian looks to God to find His will for their life.

2.  Each and every part of a palm tree is useful. The leaves not only provide shelter from the elements, but the tree itself has many nourishing and medicinal qualities. The Christian is expected to give life and hope and nourishment to others.

3.  Palm trees are not affected by drought. A palm tree is not affected by the weather and can survive nearly every surface injury. The Christian rooted in Christ draws his strength and well-being from God.

4.  The palm tree is an evergreen tree because it draws its life flow within its being, keeping it fresh.

5.  The palm tree cannot be grafted into any other tree because it has its own unique identity. Christians have one Master and cannot be grafted to any other identity.

6.  Palm trees are an emblem of victory. This was seen when Jesus entered triumphantly into Jerusalem.

7.  Palm trees always show a place where water can be found. Christians find their “living water” in Christ who can quench their thirst and the thirst of others

Prayer:  We ask, Father, that every part of our lives will be useful in sharing Your grace and mercy to others. May we become as palm trees are!  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: The man who is right and good will grow like the palm tree. He will grow like a tall tree in Lebanon. Psalm 92:12