Trees Of The Lord

William Jackson was a prominent figure in the American Revolution. But even more important was his role as the Secretary of the United States Constitutional Convention. Although we know much about him and his many accomplishments, there is one fact that is rarely mentioned when people speak of him: a fondness that he had for a large oak tree. Its great size and the strength that it represented gave him so much inspiration that he wrote a deed conveying it to the full possession of itself and the land that surrounded it so even its roots would be protected from harm.

Trees have a special significance in the Bible. The Psalmist wrote that “The trees of the Lord are well watered, the cedars of Lebanon that He planted.” Why was the cedar tree, of all trees singled out?

Cedars are trees whose branches reach high into the heavens. Their stateliness stands in stark contrast to other trees as they soar well over one hundred feet into the sky - as though they were reaching up for the God who created them. Certainly, this represents a worthy characteristic for Christians to follow.

Cedars also are deep-rooted. They send their “anchors” deep into the earth as they reach up to their Creator. Many trees fall when they are “attracted” by storms. But not the cedar tree, it stands undisturbed no matter the fierceness of the winds and rains.

Cedars are broad-branched - it spreads its arms widely as it grows old as though it wants to “embrace” others and protect them from harm. So do we.

Prayer:  Lord, make us like cedars: to reach up to be near to You, down to abide in You and out to help others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today:  The trees of the Lord are well watered, the cedars of Lebanon that He planted. Psalm 104:16

The Songs Of Birds

Ornithologists claim that there are over 9,000 birds that live throughout the world. Some make their homes in places that are covered by ice the entire year. Others make their homes in hot and arid places. Many live on the land, but some actually live on the water.

The largest bird is the male African ostrich. It may grow eight feet tall and weigh three hundred pounds. The smallest bird is the Cuban fairy hummingbird. It is about two inches long and weighs about one-tenth of an ounce.

The fastest fliers are the common swifts of Europe. They can fly as fast as two hundred miles an hour. But the highest flyers are the geese. They are known to have the strength and ability to fly higher than twenty-nine thousand feet.

The graceful flight of birds, their sweet songs, and beautiful colors have inspired artists, musicians, and poets. The Psalmist wrote, “The birds of the air nest by the waters; they sing among the branches.”

Each kind of singing bird has its special song. However, we know that sparrows can sing as many as twenty variations of the same song! They, like every other bird, are God-fashioned and “God-tuned.” No other bird has such God-given skills.

Just as God has planted songs in the heart of every bird, He has also planted songs in the heart of every Christian: songs of peace and pardon and joy. With His songs in our hearts let us sing His praises!

Prayer:  We ask, Father, that “songs of salvation” will rise from our hearts as we enjoy the gifts of Your love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today:  The birds of the air nest by the waters; they sing among the branches. Psalm 104:12

Established Forever!

If God said “it” we can believe it. And if He did “it” we know it is right. And when He created this planet, we have His assurance that it will never be moved from its orbit. It is safe, stable, and secure until His “plan for the ages” is complete. The Psalmist was convinced of this when He wrote in Psalm 104:5, “He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved.”

There is nothing as important as the foundation of a building if it is to withstand the blasts of tornadoes and tremors of earthquakes. Foundations are essential and are designed and built to withstand the violent acts of “nature.” Many building codes have been revised after buildings have been destroyed and people killed. However, no guarantee is given that they are beyond some damage. Not God’s creation, however. He guarantees His work!

 God gave us a guarantee that the foundation of this earth is secure. Isaiah wrote of another foundation: “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts (in this Foundation) will never be dismayed.”

This Foundation is the Messiah, the one in whom we have our salvation and on whom we build our lives for eternity. Even as the foundation of this earth has God’s guarantee that it cannot be “moved,” so does our salvation in Him have His guarantee that this same power is ours for this life and the one to come.

Prayer:  What a blessed assurance is ours, Lord, to know that nothing is as secure as Your Eternal Word. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved. Psalm 104:5

"Winds And Flames"

Missionary Rachel Smith was carefully telling the Christmas Story to a group of primitive headhunters in the jungles of Peru. With simplicity, she told the story of some men who were in the fields guarding their sheep when an angel suddenly appeared.

“What did he look like?” asked one. “Just like a man,” she answered. “Did he have feathers?” he asked. “No,” she replied. “Then he could not fly, and the story is not true,” he shouted.

“Have you seen the missionary plane?” she asked. “Yes,” came his reply. “Have you touched it?” she asked. “I have,” he said. “Did it have feathers?” she wanted to know. “No,” he admitted. “You see,” she explained, “one need not have feathers to fly.”

Immediately the questioner and the tribe went into an intense discussion. After several moments they agreed that the Christmas Story could be true. God used an angel that first Christmas evening to be a messenger with the most important announcement ever made to man.

The Bible has much to say about angels and their actions but little about their appearance. In Psalm 104:4 we read that “He makes winds His messengers, flames of fire His servants.”

These “messengers” - or angels - are sent by God to help and care for those who receive His salvation. The Lord will always meet the needs of His children through one way or another - even if it takes one of His angels.

Prayer:  With grateful hearts, Father, we give You our thanks for Your unending care and constant protection. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: He makes winds His messengers, flames of fire His servants. Psalm 104:4

Who Is The Greatest?

Alexander was the son of a king and tutored by Aristotle, one of the world’s most remarkable philosophers. Because of his many accomplishments as a great military leader, warrior, and king, he came to be known as Alexander the Great.

There is One, however, who is recognized as being even greater! He is acknowledged by an admirer as being “very great.” The writer of Psalm 104 exclaimed confidently, “O Lord my God, You are very great!”

He is very great because He is the creator of the universe. With great certainty, the Bible’s opening statement declares that “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” From nothing came everything reflecting His great power, glory, majesty and might.

He is very great because He is the sustainer of the universe. Imagine the power and wisdom of God as He sustains His universe. It functions flawlessly day and night, year after year and century after century. Nothing is ever left undone or incomplete. Season follows season and morning after night, and no star or planet has ever veered from where God placed it.

He is very great because He sent His Son to be our Savior. Sin thoroughly damaged His creation and every creature He formed out of the earth to reflect His image. One day this very great Savior will reclaim His creation and restore it to its original condition. He is working out His plan of redemption and reconciliation at this very moment and one day all things will be new, once again!

Prayer:  We marvel, Heavenly Father, at Your greatness. Others come and go, but Your greatness, Lord, is forever. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: LORD my God, you are very great; you are clothed with splendor and majesty. Psalm 104:1

Want To Become An Angel?

Marie asked her mother what she could do to become an angel. After a moment’s thought, she looked caringly at her and said, “Be good, Marie - very good, and if you are, someday, when you go to heaven, you will become an angel.”

But no one goes to heaven because of the life they have lived or their good deeds. Entrance to heaven - eternal life with our Heavenly Father - is through Jesus Christ, His Son, our Savior.

Angels, or heavenly hosts as David calls them, have an interesting status. They are older than man, but they are not eternal. They are mighty, supernatural beings who surround the throne of God and follow His commands and do whatever He asks them as His “special messengers.” They are part of God’s angelic army and His celestial court. While there has never been an increase in the number of angels, the Bible says that their company - or number - is “countless.”

David says something very interesting about them, “Praise the Lord, all His heavenly hosts, you His servants who do His will.” As His servants they have special roles and relationships with Him. But more importantly, they have special responsibilities. They are His messengers, bring comfort in times of need and distress, give military assistance, provide protection, guard and give guidance to those who are His own.

Finally, an angel will come from heaven, seize Satan, bind him in chains and cast him into “the pit.” What a wonderful day that will be!

Prayer: Help us, Father, to live in complete obedience to You as do Your angels. May we always follow Your will. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Praise the Lord, all His heavenly hosts, you His servants who do His will. Psalm 103:21

Lord Over All!

The Taj Mahal of India is one of the most costly and beautiful tombs in all the world. It was built by an Indian ruler, using twenty thousand men, in memory of his favorite wife.

It is built of white marble and rests on an eight-sided platform of red sandstone. Each side is one hundred thirty feet long. A beautiful dome covers the center part of the building. It is famous for its remarkable acoustics and visitors entering the building are advised to be cautious of their voices and the sounds they make. It is to be a place of quiet respect.

Years ago, Henrietta Mears, founder of Gospel Light Publications and one of the greatest Christian educators in the history of the church, visited the Taj Mahal and asked the guide, “May I say something?” When she was granted permission, she walked on the platform and exclaimed in a moving voice, “Jesus Christ, Son of God is Lord over all!”

Like rolls of thunder echoing in a canyon between majestic mountains, her powerful voice reverberated from wall to wall and down the corridors, and those inside the tomb heard the message, “Lord over all, over all, over all, over all...”

There are times when we look at the conditions that surround us and the problems facing us when we doubt that essential fact - “Lord over all!” God had David encode that fact in Psalm 103:19b: “His kingdom rules over all.” It was then; it is now and ever will be. God rules!

Prayer:  May we never doubt, Lord, that You are the one who controls all things and trust in Your sovereignty! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today:  The LORD has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all. Psalm 103:19

Our "No Assurance" Policy

Quite frequently a dear, young friend who is very concerned about my health comes to my office to visit me. Each time we meet he “reviews” my work schedule and responsibilities in great detail. He wants to know what time I get to work and what time I leave; what I did on each Saturday and Sunday since we last talked. He wants to know the last time I preached at a church, where it was and how long it took me to drive to and from it. His questions are not meant to be invasive or abusive. He is concerned about my health and wants to know whether or not I am taking proper care of myself.

After we conclude his lengthy interrogation, he looks at me and makes the same statements every time we visit: “You’re working too hard. You’re working too much. You need to go on a vacation, or you will kill yourself. Why do you work so hard? Do you want to die?”

Each time we have this discussion, I give him the same answer: “Dear friend, I am going to die. But I do not know when. So, I want to get as much done for the Lord as I possibly can. But I promise I will care for myself.”

And then I remind him of Psalm 103:15-16: “As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it, and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.”

Our days may be few, or they may be many. But one thing is for certain: We have fewer days to serve the Lord after today than we did yesterday. We must seize each opportunity for the Lord!

Prayer:  Help us Lord, to realize the importance of each day knowing that we have no assurance of tomorrow. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it, and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. Psalm 103:15-16

How Much Is Enough?

While watching a large oceangoing cargo ship slip quietly into the Atlantic, I noticed a mark on the side of the ship. Having been in the Navy for several years, I was rather embarrassed to ask my friend what it meant.

“It’s a Plimsoll Mark,” he said with authority. It was not an answer that helped at all, so I asked, “What’s a Plimsoll Mark?”

“It’s a load-line on the ship that shows how much cargo the ship can carry safely under different conditions. For example, the closer the line is to the water, the more ‘at-risk’ the ship would be in a storm.”

The Lord has a “load-line” marking on each of us. As we read in Psalm 103:14, “for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.” The Psalmist assures us that God knows our limitations - what we can safely and securely “carry.”

None of us are immune to trials - nor are any of us excused from being tempted. All of us, in one way or another and at one time or another, face similar types of trials and temptations. None are new. None are different. They come at different times in different situations from different directions appealing to our different weaknesses.

As Paul wrote, “No temptation has seized you that is not common to others, And God is faithful! He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide you a way out.”

He knows our “load-lines” and will not let us sink. However, we must be careful not to put ourselves at risk.

Prayer:  Help us, Father, to realize that You created us, that You know us and that You will protect us if we allow You to. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: For He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust. Psalm 103:14

Relief From Searching

Many missionaries travel to visit distant tribes in the most remote villages of the world. They all seem to have a similar experience: when the natives learn and understand that there is only one God, whose story is in the Bible, and whom they can come to know through Jesus Christ, they lose their fear of “their gods.” Most of them have many different gods whom they do not know nor understand - only fear. So, they live lives filled with fear - afraid that they will displease the god they have created who may punish or kill them, their families or tribe at any time. So, they live lives that are haunted, not helped, by their beliefs.

How different is the God of the Bible whom we can come to know, love and understand? Our God has the heart of a loving Father. The Psalmist described Him in wonderful, gracious terms when he wrote, “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear - stand in awe of - Him.”

He has compassion on us when we are weak and need His strength to make it through difficult days and long nights. He has compassion on us when we hurt and need His hope and healing. He has compassion on us when we have failed Him and need His forgiveness.

One day two fathers were talking. “If your son was my son, I would never speak to him again for what he’s done to you.” “Yes,” replied the father who was filled with grief, “but he’s not. He’s my son, and I’ll always love him.” How like our compassionate Heavenly Father.

Prayer:  Thank You, Father, for Your compassion which we so desperately need - yet can never earn nor deserve. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. Psalm 103:13

How Great Is God's Love?

Miss Burrell was my second-grade teacher and next-door neighbor. It seemed as though I could never get beyond her “watchful” eye. When she called on me in class, I would “shrivel” up inside and have difficulty getting any words out of my mouth. And when I was out in our yard playing, I imagined that she was “peeking” at my friends and me from the corner of a window. Perhaps it was feelings of guilt for not being a better student or more gracious when she came to visit my mother.

But despite those feelings, I remember the many evenings she would knock on our front door and ask me to join her in the front yard and study the stars and constellations. She would bring her flashlight and point out “The Big Dipper” and “The Little Dipper” and all the constellations that God formed in the sky. She would also point out different stars - some that shined brightly and some that we could barely see. I remember asking her often how many miles they were from where we were standing.

“No one will ever be able to measure the most-distant star because we will always be finding new ones that are even farther away.” So, “we’ll never know” was her answer every time I asked that question.

“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who stand in awe of Him,” said the Psalmist. What a marvelous statement about the love of God. It is so immense, as are His heavens, that we will never be able to measure it.

Prayer:  Lord, we will never understand why You love us, nor how very much You love us. But we do thank You! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who stand in awe of Him. Psalm 103:11-12

How Much Mercy Is Enough?

Albert came home from school with bruises, a torn shirt, and tears. “Fighting again?” sighed his mother. “I thought it was clear that you were to be a good Christian, not get angry and stop getting into fights. Did you count to a hundred like I told you to?” she asked.

“Well, I tried,” he said with resentment in his voice. “But John’s mother told him to only count to fifty, and that’s when he knocked me to the ground and jumped on me.”

Many of us get angry quickly. But not the Lord. In Psalm 103:8 we read that “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.”

Imagine what life would be like with an angry God - one who was quick to punish us for any and every sin. Imagine, if you can, living life in fear of being “hammered” for breaking a commandment. And, if He were not compassionate and merciful, there would be no provision or pardon for our wrongdoings. Or again, if we were suffering and brokenhearted and filled with grief and guilt for betraying Him, we would never hear Him say, “My grace is sufficient.” In the Lord, we find mercy for our sins and comfort for our sorrows.

If God were not gracious, there would be no grace - no matter how wonderful and needed it is. But it only has significance when we understand that it means God, at no cost to us, will unconditionally and willingly forgive us of all our sins. The Lord erases the ugliness of the past and provides us with clean, blank pages to fill with the potential of a new life committed to Him. Amazing grace!

Prayer:  Thank You, Father, for Your love, combined with Your mercy that is freely ours because of Your grace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. Psalm 103:8

Renewed Like Eagles

Eagles have a unique place in nature - certainly a place that differs from all other birds. They represent strength, power and freedom from the things of this world that would distract them. No wonder they have a special place in God’s Word. Isaiah promised, “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar on wings like eagles.” No doubt David had this in mind when he wrote, “so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” What makes eagles special? Eagles have great vision and sharp focus. Their eyes were designed by God for long distance and clarity. Their vision enables them to see what other birds do not see. We as Christians need God’s vision so we can see what we need to do for Him.

Eagles are fearless. As God’s representatives, we need to be fearless as we represent Him and present His message to others. We must never bow to others in fear.

Eagles are tenacious. Other birds fly from a storm. But eagles fly into the storm - taking advantage of life’s difficulties - and rise to greater heights, never giving up.

Eagles are “high-flyers.” They easily fly to an altitude of 10,000 feet. Pigeons stay on the ground and “grumble” all day long. The eagle quietly soars above the noises of life and finds peace with God.

Eagles possess vitality. They are full of life yet find time to reenergize themselves and extend their lives.

Eagles nurture their young ones. No other bird is more attentive or gentle to its young than the eagle.

Prayer: Grant us, Lord, the qualities of an eagle. May we live lives that distinguish us from others as we serve You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today:  So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. Psalm 103:5

Crowns And Compassion

 He “crowns you with love and compassion,” wrote David. What an amazing statement. Is it possible for us to understand what this means? Is God Himself crowning us with His love and compassion? What might our author have had in mind when he wrote this? Could it mean that we are kings in God’s eyes?

Not really. It means that when we became His children, He crowned us with His loyal, never-ending, steadfast love. We are His now, and we will be His forever throughout eternity, and nothing will ever separate us from Him or His love.

In his letter to Timothy, Paul wrote that “If we die with Him, we will also live with Him, and if we endure hardship, we will also reign with Him.”

Although we may suffer great hardships in this life, God assures us that someday we will live eternally with Him. So, it’s worth it even though we may - at times - doubt it. And when we live in Christ’s Kingdom, we will share His eternal reign with Him.

There may be times when our suffering may cause us to doubt God’s love. When these doubts arise, we must never forget that we have been crowned with His love and compassion. “Our present sufferings,” said Paul, “are not worth comparing with the incredible glory that will be revealed in us.” The assurance of His love gives us hope.

Once crowned with His love and compassion, we need to remember that we will, as Paul also said, “see the incredible wealth of His grace and kindness.” When we are crowned by God Himself, what more can we ask? 

Prayer: Father, Your love is beyond our understanding. But we accept it with grateful hearts and a desire to serve and honor You each day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: And crowns you with love and compassion. Psalm 103:4b

Rescued From "The Pit"

Time has a way of bringing about a “lapse in memory.” Many of the important events in our lives - especially when God has intervened in a very dramatic way - have been forgotten over the years. Yes, there are moments when they come to mind, but for the most part, unless we record them somewhere, they are forgotten. Certainly, this is a shortcoming for many of us, and it would be good if we had a “remember this gift” list.

No doubt that is why God had David add the “benefit of remembering this gift” to his list of “Do not forget.”

“Do not forget that he redeems - or more literally - rescues you - from the pit.” In the previous verse, we are reminded of His healing. Now we are reminded to “store this ‘benefit’ - being rescued from death - inside of us.”

“The pit” quite literally means “death.” Those who have ever “walked through the valley of the shadow of death” understand the significance of the “walking back into the light” of life. So, we dare not forget the great benefit and blessing of the restoration of health and healing, hope and happiness.

But we must also remember and constantly recall the “benefit” of having been rescued from “eternal death!” Jesus promised us that, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me, will never die.” This great benefit, eternity with Him, is the greatest of all benefits!

May we remember and rejoice, recall and realize each day that we experience the benefit of His blessings and eternal life, and the hope it gives us.

Prayer:  Help us, Father, to somehow - in some way - understand the value of Your benefits that we enjoy every day - beginning with Your salvation, In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Who redeems your life from the pit. Psalm 103:4a


We rarely stop and count the many benefits that we have because of God’s grace. Perhaps David clearly and carefully listed five of them beginning with what we can say is the entrance to the many benefits He has in store for us: His forgiveness.

The word forgiveness here means to “deviate” or to “stray” from the expectations, laws or commandments He established from the beginning of time. When we do so, we become guilty of sin and need His forgiveness for us to restore our relationship with Him and have a closeness with Him and enjoy His blessings.

Forgiveness is the beginning; the foundation of our relationship with God. And it is something some of us may need more often than others. The call of God’s Word is first and foremost the call for us to ask for forgiveness and repent of our sins. When we repent and confess our sins, the Gospel promises us that He will cleanse us and forgive us. John wrote that “If we freely admit and confess our sins, He is faithful and just - true to His nature, His faithfulness, and His promises - and will forgive us of our sins and continuously cleanse us of all of our unrighteousness - everything that separates us from Him.”

If, in our daily lives, we are not experiencing the benefits of His blessings, it is because there is some sin in our life that has come between the Lord and us. And if we want His blessings to return to our lives, we must go to Him in prayer and ask for His forgiveness. Forgiveness is not a once-in-a-lifetime event. It is something we must do whenever we feel isolated from Him because we have abandoned His teachings.

Prayer:  Father, may Your Spirit make us aware of our sins when we sense a need to restore our relationship with You. Help us to stay close - always. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases. Psalm 103:3


 A few years ago, I was sitting in the office of a dear friend and orthopedic surgeon. Because of his God-given skills, he was able to correct the misdiagnosis and prior operation of another physician which enabled me to walk once again.

As we sat and talked, he asked me how things had been going with my health. After explaining my ordeal with cancer and several other illnesses, he looked at me and said very seriously, “You have no reason to be alive!”

But he was wrong.

There was every reason for me to be alive. It was God who brought the healing to my body even though several physicians worked with Him along the way. It’s what God does. David was certainly aware of God’s role in the healing process when he wrote, “and (He) heals all your diseases.” If God is the one who heals all our diseases, why does He do this? Who is the beneficiary of His healing? Us or Him?

There is no doubt in my mind that God heals us so that we might bring honor and glory to Him by giving Him the credit and recognition and serving Him faithfully. If He restores our health, we must realize that it is a gift of His grace, and we show our gratitude to Him by telling others what He did for us and working with Him in this, His world.

We demonstrate our gratitude to Him, after we thank Him, by what we do for Him. Gratitude is not sincere until we become involved in building His Kingdom. Working with Him and through Him is not an option if what He has done for us means nothing to us.

Prayer:  Lord, we are not our own, but Yours. When You heal us, let us show how thankful we are by serving You with the healing You brought us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases. Psalm 103:3

Good Reasons To Rejoice!

Centuries ago, there was a legend that mystics would share with their followers. “The Lord, at one time,” went the legend, “colored all the flowers green. But one day He dipped His finger in the pot at the bottom of the rainbow and when He took it out it was covered with many different colors. When He saw how beautiful the colors were, He decided to paint each of the flowers a different color and give each of them their name.”

“One morning,” the legend continues, “a beautiful flower with small blue, pink and white flowers was asked, ‘What’s your name?’” The flower hung its head, sighed and said, “Oh my, I forgot.”

Embarrassed, the flower confessed to the Lord, “I’m so sorry, but I have forgotten my name.” And the Lord said, “That’s all right. Everyone forgets some things. But I have not forgotten you.” Then He added, “Whatever else you do, ‘For-Get-Me-Not,’ for I am the God who created you!”

From that day until today, this lovely little flower has been called “For-Get-Me Not.” Whenever we see it, we need to remember the words of David, “Praise the Lord, all my soul, and forget not all - or perhaps better stated - forget not any of His benefits.”

We seldom think of the extensive range of God’s gifts! Every beat of our heart, every breath we inhale, every sight we see or noise we hear, every step we take, every taste we enjoy, every friend we have, every blessing we receive, every promise of His that we claim - and mostly our salvation - are only the beginning of His benefits to us.

Prayer:  Lord! How gracious You are to give us so many gifts - beginning with our salvation. Most importantly, though, give us thankful hearts. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Praise the Lord, O my soul and do not forget all His benefits. Psalm 103:2

Inside Vs. Outside

As John left for the Army in World War I, his mother slipped a copy of the Twenty Third Psalm into his hand. “Here,” she said with tears in her eyes and pain in her heart, “take this with you wherever you go, never lose it and read it every time you are afraid and ask God to protect you!”

He followed her advice even in the fiercest combat zones. One day during a time of intense fighting, he slipped the Psalm from his pocket and started to read it. Suddenly, a bomb burst near him, and he jumped into a foxhole and lost the tattered piece of paper. It frightened him, and he said, “Now, I’ll always have bad luck.”

After the battle, he went to a tattooist with a copy of the Psalm and asked, “Please, Sir, tattoo this Psalm on my arm. I never, ever want to be without it.”

Many of us are like that soldier. We have God’s Word in our Bibles but not in our hearts. We keep His Word on our tables or desks but not in our minds. We do not allow it to become the centerpiece of our lives. It’s outside and “nearby” but not inside working its way out where it can make a difference in our lives.

“Praise the Lord, O my soul,” said David, “and do not forget all His benefits - Who forgives all your sins, Who heals all Your diseases, Who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion.”

When we pause and think of this Lord that David is writing about, it does not make any sense to keep Him in a Book or on a piece of paper. He deserves to be living deep within our hearts, guiding and guarding our lives giving us His peace and power.

Prayer:  Forgive us, Lord, for not allowing You to be at the center of all that we do or say, think about or seek. May Your Word be the light of our life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Praise the Lord, O my soul and do not forget all His benefits. Psalm 103:2

The Universal Language

 No matter where you travel - from the darkest jungle to the highest mountain - you will find some type of music. It could be rap or rock and roll, hip-hop or jazz, rhythm and blues or opera, music for a marching band, the painful music of the pagan, the repetitive Middle Eastern style, or the majesty of hymns or worship music. All music makes a statement about the one who is making it and the ones who are listening.

Sometimes the music sounds sad and sorrowful or joyful and uplifting. Then again it might be the music of marches that stirs up our patriotism on the Fourth of July. Music can bring tears to our eyes or a smile to our face when it reminds us of a loved one. When we sit quietly in church or lift our arms to God, it can elevate our hearts to His presence or excite our senses when we hear music that proclaims the glory of God’s goodness and grace, love, and salvation. But can there be more? 

 Of course! The Psalmist wrote of the music that should always fill the heart of a Christian: “Praise the Lord, O my soul, all my inmost being, praise His holy Name!” 

Praise, in the life of the believer, is personal. If we remind ourselves of the work of Jesus while on this earth, we remember that He did His greatest works with individuals. Even when He was dying on the cross for our sins, He ministered to the one next to Him: “Lord,” he cried, “remember me!” And Jesus said, “This day you will be with me in heaven!” Even as our prayer for pardon is personal, so should our praise to our God be personal. When praise becomes personal, it works from the inside out!

Prayer:  Lord, fill our hearts with praise! May our souls be filled with songs of joy and hymns of gladness, always! Let our praise fill our lives with hope! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Praise the Lord, O my soul, all my inmost being, praise His holy Name. Psalm 103:1

Never Changing!

  Dan and his Dad were sitting together looking at a family photo album. Looking at a picture of a young man who had a head full of hair he asked, “Who’s that guy, Dad?”

“Me,” he replied. “That’s how I used to look.”

“What happened?” he asked curiously.

Things change. People change. Times change. The universe changes. The heavens, admitted the Psalmist, “will grow old.” God will change them as a man putting on new clothing and throwing away the old. And then he wrote with confidence, “But You will remain the same, and Your years will never end!”

Everyone is familiar with change. It is a part of life. There are times when it is welcome, and there are times when we fight against anything that is new and different, untried and unproven. There are days when everything is turned upside down and inside out. Some mornings begin with peace and calm and then turn into a tempest by lunch. We assume that we will escape every illness and live long only to be diagnosed with cancer. We know that our marriage will last a lifetime only to be told our spouse wants a divorce.

 Is there any news that could be more welcome - more comforting - more desired - more important - more joy producing than these words of the Psalmist: “You - O Lord - will remain the same?” Your character will remain throughout eternity.

No matter the day or the difficulty, the problem or the pain, His love and His faithfulness guard us! How fortunate we are to have a God Who is and will always be!

Prayer:  We are comforted to know, Father, that if we believe in Your Word we can trust You to honor it. Great is Your faithfulness and Your love! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: But You will remain the same, and Your years will never end. Psalm 102:27

Where Did It All Come From?

Years ago, a man who had difficulty believing that God created the universe stopped by my brother’s office for a visit. As he was sitting there, he noticed Michael’s new computer. After typing a few lines and watching the cursor blink and the printer spit out what was printed, he asked, “Where did this amazing machine come from?”

Remembering that he was an atheist, Michael replied, “Oh, a friend of mine just threw a bunch of bars and bolts, guides and keys, nuts and rollers, screws and springs and some toner stuff into a bucket, shook it for a minute or two, turned it upside down and out came this ‘creation.’”

“O.K., Preacher, I get it,” he admitted. “What you’re telling me is that just as there had to be someone design and put the computer together, there must have been Someone to design and put the universe together.”

There are many who argue for or against the existence of God. The Bible, however, does not. It simply states that “God is.” In Psalm 102:25 we read, “In the beginning You laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands.” This obviously means that God “was” before anything existed, and that the heavens and earth are the work of His hands. Creation is finite and transitory, but our God is not. Even though what is will one day no longer exist, we need have no fear.

As Peter reminds us “in keeping with His promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.” WILL YOU BE THERE? 

Prayer:  We rejoice, Lord, for Your promise that one day we may live with You in the “home of righteousness.” With hope we await that day! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today:  In the beginning You laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. Psalm 102:25-26

God's Character

The waiting passenger became furious with the gate attendant when the time of departure for his flight had been delayed. “What good are those numbers if you have to change them and tell us that the flight is being delayed?” he demanded.

“Well, sir,” said the attendant, “no one would be prepared for the departure of the flight unless we keep our passengers informed. The numbers tell people what to do”

There is a strong statement about the character of God in Psalm 102. The people were suffering and felt separated from God because of the sin in their lives. We often forget that suffering and sin are inseparable. And instead of wanting to give up their sin, they wanted to be delivered from their suffering. But that’s not the way God works!

“You will arise and have compassion,” he wrote, “for it is time to show favor to Your chosen.” There was no doubt in his mind that God would show compassion - but it would be in His time and on His terms. Our God is a righteous God, and we cannot expect Him to show us His favor if we are disobedient to His Word. It tells us what to do.

“You will arise,” said the Psalmist in confidence. He knew that God was attentive to their needs. He knew that “the appointed time had come.”

What determines the “appointed time” for God to respond to our prayers? Our attitude: repenting and asking for His forgiveness. When we take this first step, He will begin to respond to our requests for His help and begin to work His miracles in our lives.

Prayer:  Father, may we understand the fact that we must confess and forsake our sins if we want Your help. Your gifts depend on our faithfulness to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: You will arise and have compassion for it is time to show favor to Your chosen. Psalm 102:13

Are You There, God?

It was time for her prayers before jumping into bed. Little Susie began her prayer by thanking God for all His blessings that day. She did good on her tests, and her best friend came to visit her after school. So, she spent a special time thanking Him for all the good things He did for her that day. But when it was time for her to conclude her prayer, she said, “Good night, Dear Jesus, wherever You are. We’re moving to New York in the morning. It’s been nice talking to You. Amen.” To her, Jesus could only hear her prayers if she was in the right place at the right time.

There are times when each of us feels that God is not paying attention to us when we pray. It seems as though the doors of heaven are locked tight, and God is too busy to hear us. Or maybe we’ve moved away from Him, and He no longer cares about us or our needs. Even the writer of Psalm 102:1 felt that way when he wrote: “Hear my prayer, O Lord, let my cry for help come to You.”

This was no ordinary prayer. He was desperate and begged God for His attention. He sensed a distance between himself and God, was in a crisis and could not endure this sense of alienation. But he did not stop and give up but continued by saying, “Do not hide from me - answer me quickly!” I need Your help this very moment, God!

Perhaps a lesson we can learn from this prayer is that in His silence God is trying to get our attention. And sometimes, when we are intense and anxious, we become more alert to what He is doing. We must always remember that God is at work and when He is silent, He may be encouraging us to look more intently at the small things.

Prayer:  Grant us patience, Father, as we wait before You, knowing that You are doing things we may not see. Open our eyes to see Your miracles. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Hear my prayer, O Lord, let my cry for help come to You. Psalm 102:1

Needed: Examples

It’s not unusual to hear someone say, “But I don’t want to be a role model.” But that’s not the way it is. All of us are, at one time or another, a model who someone will try to imitate for one reason or another. David made this observation a long time ago.

“My eyes will be on the faithful in the land,” he said. When David looked for a role model, he did not look for one who was famous or powerful, one who had wealth or riches, he looked for one who was “faithful to the Lord.” He was committed to build his life on God’s principles - principles that were eternal and everlasting. So, he searched for those who had God’s purposes and plans in their minds and hearts as evidenced by their lives: those who were obedient to God. And when he found them, he surrounded himself with them and even invited them to “dwell” with him.

Someone once asked John Rockefeller, “How did you become so successful?” He looked at them sternly and said, “Because I surround myself with successful people!”

Here we find a great lesson for life: If we want to achieve great things for God, we must surround ourselves with people who have done or are doing great things for God. We cannot become more than we are for God if we associate with and follow the examples of those who do not care much for God or do not have loving and serving God at the very center of their lives.

David expressed his need for being surrounded by the “faithful.” He knew that “He whose walk is blameless will minister to me.” Think of all he accomplished for God. 

Prayer:  Lord, may we be careful to choose friends who will encourage us to be faithful to You in all that we do. May we follow leaders who follow You. Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: My eyes will be on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; the one whose walk is blameless will minister to me. Psalm 101:6

Impaired Vision

“What the eyes cannot see,” says an old Dutch proverb, “the heart cannot crave.” And the Italians seem to match it with one of their own: “If the eyes do not admire, the heart will not desire.”

But long before these old proverbs shaped people’s minds, David had his own proverb that addressed the same issue: “I will set before my eyes no vile thing.”

Our eyes are the gateway to our heads, hearts, and souls. It is what we see, day after day, that shapes our thoughts and values and ultimately our behavior. What we see we desire and what we desire is what drives us in one direction or another. Our vision triggers our thoughts and our thoughts our behavior. Here’s an example:

When Jericho was destroyed, no one was to take any of the spoils. But Achan disobeyed the order; he stole a beautiful garment, a bag of silver, and a bar of gold. This was unfortunate because disaster visited Israel because of his greed and thirty-six soldiers were left dead on the battlefield. Joshua was alarmed and decided to search the tents of his soldiers. He found the “accursed thing” in Achan’s tent.

In making his confession before being stoned to death and being buried in a criminal’s grave, Achan said, “I saw...I coveted...I took...and I hid.”

What a graphic description of the path to sin: First we look. Then we desire. Then we decide. Then we sin. Then we try to find an excuse. Then we lie. Then we try to hide our wrongdoing. But it’s too late. The consequences will come - to us and to others. 

It all begins with a simple glance. Then the mind takes over, and the decision is made

Prayer:  Help us, Lord, to keep our eyes upon You and our desires away from “things” that would defeat and destroy us. May we stay focused on You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today:  I will set before my eyes no vile thing. Psalm 101:3

Our Homes - God's Sanctuary

“On the first day of each month I carefully walk through every room in my home to make certain that there is nothing that would embarrass Jesus if He were to visit our family,” said my friend. “If there is anything anywhere that is not appropriate for His eyes, it certainly is wrong for me to gaze upon it. If there are magazines or books or newspapers that have vile or unclean photos or stories, I throw them away immediately. And because of the influence of television - even the news or children's stories or cartoons, we got rid of our television. Many of my friends think I am wise because I do not allow that stuff to corrupt the minds of my children. But when I talk to “them” about Jesus, many of them think I’m weird even though I do this because of Him.”

His statements brought back childhood memories of my home in Lorain, Ohio. His attitude was the same as my mother’s. I can hear an echo of her voice today: “We’re not going to allow Satan to live in this house,” she said often. In every room there was an open Bible - readily visible for anyone to see. The walls had pictures of Bible stories and scenes of the way people lived in the days of Jesus. Wherever guests looked, they were reminded of something that had to do with the story of salvation. Of course, we also had family photos. But they were pictures of activities that were related to church events or pictures of us “kids” standing next to missionaries or evangelists.

“Home is where the heart is,” someone once said. And if the “heart” belongs to Jesus, He will be very visible in every room in our home.

Prayer:  Father, may our homes become Your dwelling place where all who visit see You as the Lord of our lives. May You be well represented. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today:  I will conduct the affairs of my house with a blameless heart. Psalm 101:2b

What's So Good About God?

“Wow!” said an associate as a group of us left a restaurant after a dinner meeting. “That was a really good meal!”

“Good?” questioned another. “What do you mean good? That’s one of the worst meals I’ve ever paid for. It was horrible!”

“Not so fast,” said a third. “Part of it was really bad, and part was fairly good. At least, that’s my opinion.”

“Good” is in the eye of the beholder. You and I might experience the same event together - as the meal mentioned above - but have entirely different opinions about it. But when the author of Psalm 100 was ending his thoughts about God, he said, “For the Lord is good and His love endures forever.” He was convinced that “God was good.” In fact, this entire Psalm is written as a Psalm that expresses his reasons to give thanks to God.

Years ago, when the Anglo-Saxons were converted to Christ, they searched for a word in their language that they could all agree upon that expressed the character of the divine Being of the Bible.

They described stories of His faithfulness, His grace, His holiness, His mercy, His power, His love, His salvation and asked, “What one word will express all of these words?” After a discussion they all agreed: “The good!” And “good” is the old English word for “God.”

When we look at the “big picture” of all that God has done for us, to us, and in us, it is certainly appropriate for us to describe Him, as they did: “The Good.”

Prayer:  Father, when we consider all Your ways and the wonders of Your works and wisdom we too agree: You are Good! And, You are our God! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. Psalm 100:5

Be Happy!

A deacon was asked by his pastor to meet a guest speaker at the local airport. He stood patiently waiting and looking at each traveler as they claimed their luggage and then left the airport. But he was not comfortable in approaching any of them and asking, “Are you the one who is scheduled to speak at the First Baptist Church?”

Finally, he noticed a gentleman who was wearing a dark blue suit, red tie and carrying a briefcase. Ah, he thought, that’s our guest.

Approaching him he asked, “Pardon me, Sir, but are you the minister who is to speak at the First Baptist Church tomorrow?”

“No,” came the reply. “It’s my indigestion that makes me look like I’m sick.”

How sad it is that people associate gloom and doom with godliness and not happiness and gladness. If there is anything that should separate the born again from those who do not know Christ as Savior, it is the sign of joy! We who have been released from the power of sin and the grip of Satan ought to always have a smile on our faces and happiness in our hearts.

“I might have been a minister myself,” confessed Oliver Wendell Holmes, “for all I know, if a certain clergyman had not looked and talked like an undertaker.”

God’s Word does not say, “Be careful not to smile. The world is in terrible shape. The end will soon be here.” Instead, it cries out loudly, “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship Him with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs.” Let’s be joyful!

Prayer:  Father, if we have not found a reason to be filled with “joyful songs,” please open our eyes to see Your goodness, be happy, and smile! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today:  Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Psalm 100:1-2

Pardoned And Set Free

A soldier in a combat zone learned that his wife was desperately ill and not expected to live. He applied for an “emergency leave” but was denied. After a sleepless night, he decided that he would desert his post and fellow soldiers and go to her bedside. As he was leaving his barracks, he was apprehended and placed in the stockade.

A few weeks later he was ordered to stand trial. After the evidence was presented to the judge and jury, he was found guilty and condemned to death for leaving his post.

“I understand, Sir,” he said to the judge “that I left my post and deserted my colors. I deserve the verdict of the court.” The judge then asked, “Do you have anything more to say?”

“No, your honor,” came the reply.

“Well, I do,” said the judge. “There is something more to say. Let me tell you what it is.” And he read the soldier a pardon.

Standing tall and filled with gratitude, he began to weep violently for the mercy the court offered him. In humility he offered his gratitude and saluted the judge. He was then restored to duty and returned to combat.

Our God is a holy God and cannot ignore our sins. And because we have sinned, we deserve to be punished. But because of His justice and great love He offers us a pardon through the death of His Son. It was His Son, Jesus, who on our behalf, accepted our punishment, rescued us and set us free from the penalty of death. The moment we accept His mercy we are pardoned and set free from our punishment.

Prayer:  How grateful we are, Father, for the reminder that YOU are “the God who forgives!” May we accept that forgiveness through Christ. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: O LORD our God, you answered them. You were a forgiving God to them. Psalm 99:8a

His Master's Voice

There once was a dog named “Nipper,” a terrier, who was very devoted to his master, Mark Barraud. The two were best friends and were rarely seen apart from each other. When Mark died, his brother Francis ‘adopted’ him and after a lengthy period of mourning, “Nipper” became very attached to Francis, who was an artist. Eventually they too developed a very close relationship.

Mark and Francis lived in the latter 1800s and at that time phonographs with wax cylinders were used for recording voices and music. Some of Francis’ cylinders contained recordings of his voice and each time he played one of his recordings, “Nipper” would place his head near the phonograph and look intently into it as though he was looking for his master to appear. “Nipper’s” pose inspired the artist, and he painted a picture of it that became one of the most famous and recognizable brands in all the world, called “His Master’s Voice.”

 In Psalm 99:7 we read that “He spoke to them from the pillar of cloud.” What an unusual means of communication. Imagine walking through a field and suddenly hearing a cloud call you by name and giving you a special message. Seems improbable, but that’s what God did to Moses and Aaron. Yet, if necessary, He could do it today.

Our God is constantly trying to speak to us in different ways at different times and in different places every moment of every day. He does everything he can to get our attention to get us to hear “our Master’s voice.” However, we must be alert and attentive, waiting and willing to hear Him speak, and keep our eyes open to see Him in action. 

Prayer:  Help us, Father, to eliminate the noise in our ears and fog in our eyes so we can see You when You show up and hear You when You speak. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: He spoke to Israel from the pillar of cloud, and they followed the laws and decrees he gave them. Psalm 99:7