Look At It This Way...

“One thing is for certain about you, Guido,” he said as he looked at my messy desk, “you don’t have OCD!”

“What do you mean, I don’t have OCD?” I asked.

“Well, if you had an obsessive-compulsive disorder you would be arranging and rearranging your desk to make it neat and orderly. Then you would do it over and over again. But, it’s not neat, never has been, and probably never will be. I’ll bet that your drawers are the same.”

Realizing that he was right, I decided not to argue with him. He was a psychologist, and I was embarrassed.

Many people do arrange and then rearrange things. Some people do things over and over again, and then again, to make sure that everything is perfect, or as close to perfect as it can be. They check and then recheck what they have already checked. Being around people who have habits like that make me feel guilty. They have to do things right!

But there is a vast difference between doing things right and doing the right things. We can waste an entire day arranging and then rearranging food in our homes while our neighbor goes hungry. Or, we may arrange and then rearrange our cramped closets when we know there are people who wear worn out, ragged clothing because they have no other choice. We may be doing things right but we are certainly not doing the right things.

Righteousness in God’s Word is a combination of both behaviors. Not only do we want to do things right  - as He commands us to do in His Word - but we must do the right things that will please and honor Him, as we serve others in need – spiritually and morally.

Prayer:  Help us, Father, to be aware of how we do “righteousness.” May our lives meet Your expectations. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Today's Bible Verse:    For receiving instruction in prudent behavior, doing what is right and just and fair. Proverbs 1:3

Right Choices

 “When you come to a ‘fork’ in the road, take it,” is an oft-quoted bit of advice from Yogi Berra. It has brought a smile to the face of many when they first hear it. But if you listen to what he is saying, it’s rather dangerous. Let me explain.

“Wherever you want to go, is OK. Just follow your own path and enjoy life,” is what I think Yogi Berra is suggesting. But, is following our own self-designed path the best thing we can do with the life God has given us?

God gave us His Proverbs for us to have His understanding to know right from wrong. In fact, if we go back to a conversation between God and Solomon, his first request of God was for the gift of insight: he wanted to be able to discern right from wrong. Solomon, at that time, wanted to honor God with his whole heart. He knew that honoring God would be difficult without God’s insight to guide him. What a wise request! “God,” he begged, “please guide me.”

Perhaps he saw his father, David, struggling with his humanity when he had to choose right from wrong. Perhaps he saw his father grieve over a poor decision that cost someone their life. Perhaps he saw David, his dad, deal with guilt when he did not follow God’s guidance. There was something deep within him that challenged him to “be insightful, or discerning.” So, he asked God for this gift of “discernment,” and when he understood and applied it in his life, he recognized its value. When he recognized it’s value to him, he wanted to pass it on for us to use in our lives. How thoughtful of him to want to share God’s Word with us to guide us and keep us from sin.     

God has given us the only resource we need to be discerning: His Word. If we choose to honor Him we can find His directions in His Word. Life is safe and certain if we follow His Word!

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, we know that You will guide us and guard us if we seek Your will and stay obedient to Your Word. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Today's Bible Verse:    For giving prudence to those who are simple, knowledge and discretion to the young.  Proverbs 1:4


There are very few pictures of “Attention!” that can rival a US Marine standing tall after hearing that word. As soon as that “word” is shouted by a “superior” heels come together, muscles tighten, and faces freeze as though they were carved in granite. Persons who have served in the military know the significance of that word. When “shouted to subordinates” it results in an external rigidity that is very visible to the onlooker and represents an internal attitude of concentration that is waiting for a command to be obeyed and followed with no hesitation.

Throughout His Word, God uses many different ways to get the “attention” of His children. There are times when He speaks directly to a person. There are times when He speaks to one person through another person. When God wants the attention of His children, He has many options.

We read in Job that one of God’s options to get our attention is through suffering: “For He wounds, but He also binds up; He injures, but His hand also heals,” wrote Job.

In Proverbs 1:2 we find a word that can be translated with several different meanings: instruction, discipline, training and chastened. But, in this instance, there is no doubt that it means “to teach by discipline” or “through punishment.”

We often hear stories about people who “have to hit bottom” before they are willing to do something about a problem that is destroying them. It may be God at work. He often uses suffering and hardship to get our attention by “raising the bottom” to “save” us because He loves us.

“The Lord disciplines those He loves,” wrote Solomon. God often uses discipline to get our “attention” when we abandon Him. Why? Because He refuses to let us destroy ourselves!”

Prayer:  Lord, we know You love us. Do whatever is necessary to keep us in Your will - even if it means we must suffer for You to get our attention. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Today's Bible Verse:   For gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight. Proverbs 1:2

Always Room For More

 Whenever I hear the word “gain,” I think it is related to “weight,” especially my weight. There are very few mornings that I do not step on the scale to get my “daily report” on what I ate yesterday. Most nutritionists do not recommend such a program. But, my hope to see the arrow pointing downward remains steadfast.

A gain or increase can be good or bad, exciting or depressing, encouraging or discouraging, depending on what the gain refers to. If we depend on the stock market, a gain can be a good thing. But, if we see a gain in our debt, it can be disturbing. Our gains or losses, for the most part, are usually in the physical or material realm.

Solomon speaks of a particular type of “gain” - of being able to achieve some “things” that will last as long as we live. These “gains,” these valuable lessons are available and offered to us in Proverbs.  Our “attaining” more of God’s wisdom, or “life gains” is very important for all Christians because we are constantly challenged to “grow” throughout Scripture, and Proverbs provides this path for us if we want to grow.

The word used for “wisdom” in this verse also means skillfulness - applying knowledge that comes from God to our lives every day. If we do so, we will “do the right things the right way.”  

When we go one step further, we come to the fact that it is possible to develop decision-making skills that are God-honoring and enable us to establish life-principals that will bring us success. God’s proverbs can guide us through life, help us in our relationships with others, lead to good practices in business, enrich our homes, and bless God and others.

Prayer:  Lord, You've left us “no excuses” on how we are to live life if we are Christians. Thanks for the directions on how to live a successful life! Now, give us courage! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Today's Bible Verse:   For gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight. Proverbs 1:2

The Importance Of Words

 “What’s a nanosecond, Keller?” I asked my ten-year-old grandson.

“Papa, everyone knows what a nanosecond is,” he replied with a wry smile across his lips as if teasing me.

“Well, not quite everyone. If I knew, I wouldn’t ask.” I felt like I needed to go back to school. Immediately!

“It means one, one billionth of a second. It’s used to measure the speed of light and other stuff,” he replied casually. Not having any need to measure the speed of light, I thought it was a good time to end the conversation. I realized how little I knew about some things.

But there is one thing I do know without any doubt: God took great care to choose the exact words He needed to explain His message of redemption. No second guessing about what He wanted us to understand. No hidden meanings for a special class of people. Nothing is left to the imagination that could cause us to make an error in knowing God’s message or direction for our lives.

This is very obvious in Proverbs 1:2-4. God, through Solomon, let us know that there is a right way and a wrong way to “live life.” Each of us has choices to make about the way we will live: either a life of righteousness with God’s power that will honor and glorify Him or a life that is sinful, self-centered and leads to our death and damages others.

Ten of the approximately forty words in Proverbs 1:2-4 provide different aspects on ways to understand, see and apply God’s wisdom for daily, God-centered, living. Check them out!

God leaves nothing to “chance.” He wants us to succeed!

Prayer:  Thank You, Father, for the “God is My Helper” successful living guide-book – the Book of Proverbs. May we follow it carefully. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Today's Bible Verse:  For gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight; for receiving instruction in prudent behavior, doing what is right and just and fair; for giving prudence to those who are simple, knowledge and discretion to the young. Proverbs 1:2-4

A King's Resume

 Recently I was asked to write a resume. Since I had not written one in nearly 30 years, it presented a real challenge. As I thought about the many things I had done, some well and some not so well, I was grateful for the fact that the choice of what I would include was up to me.

Solomon did not write his resume. God did. Nor was he the last one to make a statement about who he was and what he had accomplished. God did that as well. (And, by the way, God will do the same for you and me.)

Even a casual review of Solomon’s resume is impressive.

-Early Childhood Education:

Exposed to sages, philosophers, wise men

Observed troops preparing for battle

Studied large building construction

Accompanied his father in foreign affairs

Sang Psalms written by his father

Involved in worship, prayer, and praise

-Major Life Achievements:

The third king of Israel

Built God’s Temple in Jerusalem

Diplomat, trader, patron of the arts

Recognized as “wisest man who ever lived”

Author, sage, and philosopher

-Final Notations:

Leadership accomplishments destroyed

Married pagan women, compromised his God

Enslaved God’s children

What could have been, never was. Sadly, sin defeated Solomon, and he lost everything.

Prayer:  One day, Father, we will all stand before You to be judged for the lives we lived.. May You bless us and say, Well done, Faithful Servant! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Today's Bible Verse:  Was it not because of marriages like these that Solomon king of Israel sinned? Among the many nations there was no king like him. He was loved by his God, and God made him king over all Israel, but even he was led into sin by foreign women. Nehemiah 13:26

Looking Deeper

Advice only has value if it achieves its goals. Often, we follow the advice we get if it agrees with what we want to hear or if it comes from a trusted friend. When we need sound, reliable, and timely advice, we need assurance that our sourve is wise. Certainly, advice coming from David, a “man after God's own heart,” would be worth following. So, when he gave advice to his son, it was a tipping point in his career as a king, husband, father, teacher, and warrior.

And, his advice was simple, and can be summed up in a few words: “Be strong and obedient to God.” But, what does this mean?

First and foremost, Solomon, if he chose to succeed, needed a deep, personal relationship with God. As he grew up in David’s household, he saw his father reading the law and prophets, worshipping and praying, writing the psalms and following God faithfully. David proved what obedience was. And, when he failed, he repented, and returned to obeying God’s teachings!

However, he had to know God’s laws to obey them. To know them, he had to study them before he could apply them. This would take time from other things - but would be time well invested and keep him from failing in life by being disobedient to God.

 He also was given advice to worship God wholeheartedly, surrender to Him completely and serve Him willingly and faithfully. Sadly, history shows us that he refused to do that.

As the story of Solomon unfolds in the Bible, we read of “what might have been” if he had surrendered to God completely. His lack of surrender destroyed the plan God had for him.

The same is true for us. We must study God’s Word and, surrender to Him, or fail.

Prayer:  Father, may we willingly study and obey Your Word, and then surrender our lives to You and bring honor to Your Name and peace to our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Today's Bible Verse: When the time drew near for David to die, he gave a charge to Solomon his son.  “I am about to go the way of all the earth,” he said. “So be strong, act like a man and observe what the LORD your God requires: Walk in obedience to him, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go.” 1 Kings 2:1-3

Fatherly Advice

There is no shortage of advice in today’s world. We can discover endless resources in the exploding number of self-help books and magazines, radio and TV shows. No matter where we look or what we listen to, someone has some formula to solve our problems, enrich our lives, make us more attractive, add years to our lives, and make us wealthy.

Solomon, apart from his Proverbs, also offered insight on how to live life well in some of his other writings. And, at the end of his life he wrote, “Of making many books there is no end...all has been heard, and here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments.” In these few words, he went back to the beginning of his reign when his father, David, gave him some “fatherly advice” – “Solomon, be strong, act like a man, and observe what the Lord your God requires.”

There are, as mentioned earlier, many sources and resourses on how to live life. But the advice we find here is different. After reflecting on his life and reviewing his successes and failures, he summed up the essence of life: “Life, apart from God, is meaningless.”

David, “a man after God's own heart,” offered his son, Solomon, a man who would one day be recognized as “the wisest man who ever lived” the formula for success.

God’s wisdom, however, only has value if followed. As long as Solomon followed the advice of his father, David, God honored and blessed him. And, nothing since then has changed.

If we follow the advice of our Heavenly Father as He presents it in His Word, He will honor and bless us, guide us and guard us, too!

Prayer:  To accept and live by Your requirements, Father, is easier said than done. But, with Your power, it is possible if we trust in Your strength, not ours.. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Today's Bible Verse: Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them. Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body. Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. Ecclesiastes 12:12-13

Where Did The Proverbs Come From?

No one has ever asked me to answer a question that had no limits. Sometimes, I have been asked questions that have encouraged me to “think big” or to “go beyond what I have thought of in the past,” or to “think into the future for what could be.” Those questions have been very challenging. However, no one has ever approached me and said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you, and I will!” At least, no one who had the power to give me a “whatever.”

But that happened to Solomon. And, the one who asked him that question was not his father who he would replace as king. It was One who was much more powerful than his father, and One who, indeed, could grant Solomon the “whatever” he wished for. It was God Himself!

He realized and admitted to God that he was not qualified to be a king. He saw himself as “a little child.” So, he asked God to “give Your child a discerning heart” – (not mind) – “to govern Your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of Yours?” Then, the very next verse begins with, “The Lord was pleased that Solomon asked for this!” And, God responded: “I will give you what you asked for and what you have not asked for: wealth and honor, and in your lifetime you will have no equal!”

What an interesting question: “Ask for whatever you want” - and what a humble answer: “Nothing for myself. My only desire is to have a discerning heart.”

God granted his request and through him gave us His inspired, infallible, inerrant Proverbs as “life guides.”

Prayer:  Father, in Your wisdom, You gave Your servant wisdom to offer to Your children so they could “live well!” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Today's Bible Verse:   So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours? 1 Kings 3:9

Why The Proverbs Of Solomon?

 Wisdom was a very important matter to those living during the time of Solomon. The Bible gives special recognition to the wise men of Israel’s neighbor, especially those in Egypt, as well as Babylon and Phoenicia, Arabia, and Edom. The Old Testament also refers to Gentile “sages” with a certain degree of respect – but does not mention the Gentile priests and prophets.

It’s important for us to remember that there were many in that period of history who were very intelligent even though they did not speak as one having a “special revelation” from God. Individuals throughout the ages, even today can think, speak and write wisely within many different fields of knowledge, and yet not speak on behalf of God. It is this simple, significant fact that makes The Proverbs of Solomon different. Solomon spoke on behalf of God, the truth of God, to guide the people of God into “paths of righteousness for His sake.” Then, as now, following the teachings and instructions of Solomon, God's children have God's “filter” to see God’s world through God’s eyes.

We often talk about “hindsight” and “foresight,” but God’s Word gives us insight into the way we are to live. We may have wisdom from other sources, but the wisdom that comes from God enables us to live victoriously and successfully, and let the world see and understand the value of submitting to His teachings. We are, of all people, most blest to have His wisdom!

One more fact: We, as the children of God, also have access to the power of God, to live lives that are pleasing to God, through the strength and power of God.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, may we know, understand, accept and live in the light of Your wisdom every day! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Today's Bible Verse:  The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel. Proverbs 1:1

What's A Proverb?

Little Ruby was saying her bedtime prayers. “Dear God,” she prayed, “please help bad people to be good and good people to be nice.” Whether Ruby knew it or not, she provided a simple way of describing what the book of Proverbs is: “a guidebook for living a life that pleases God.”

Over the years, various cultures and societies have established different criteria to describe whether or not one is “successful.” Many have put “wealth” at the top of the list. And, money, to some degree, is important and necessary if one is to have the necessities of life. Others would speak of power, prestige, and one’s position in society as being critical. Those words express the core values of individuals who want to be recognized for what they have accomplished on the world’s stage in politics, the military, banking, or finance. No doubt some want to be remembered for doing some “thing” that no one else has done - like discovering a medicine that extends life or setting a record in a particular sport, inventing a product or procedure that makes life better or is useful, valuable or delightful.

But, those whose lives are guided by the lessons that we find in The Proverbs are those who fear God and allow Him to guide them, guard them and give them His gifts.

We often talk about hindsight, sometimes we wish we had foresight, but Solomon’s Proverbs gives us the insight to make decisions based on God’s laws. Proverbs provide us with God’s wisdom that is underwritten by God to give us His power to live good, godly lives.

Prayer:  Grant us willful hearts, Lord, to obey Your laws. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Today's Bible Verse:  The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel. Proverbs 1:1

Lasting Impressions

One dreadful day, many years ago, a large sailboat capsized on Lake Michigan. It was near the shore, and the lifeguard on duty, Edward Spencer, jumped into the lake and rescued all seventeen people who were on board. Finally, he fell exhausted on the shore and was taken to a hospital to recover. As he was carried into the emergency room, he kept asking, “Did I do my best?”

Years later, Dr. R.A. Torrey, an evangelist, was telling this story in a revival in Los Angeles. Suddenly, a man electrified the audience. He stood up and shouted, “Dr. Torrey, Edward Spencer is here.”

Shaken, Dr. Torrey asked, “Would you please come to the platform?” Slowly, the white-haired Spencer made his way to the platform as the people applauded wildly.

Dr. Torrey looked at him with grateful eyes and asked, “Is there anything that stands out in your mind in the saving of those seventeen people?”

“Only one thing, Dr. Torrey,” he replied. “Of the seventeen, not one of them thanked me.”

“Ingratitude is the mother of every vice,” is a famous French saying. And the Spanish add, “The earth produces nothing worse than an ungrateful man.”

Why is it so difficult to say, “Thanks?” Is it pride? Is it self-centeredness - the attitude that I don’t need you or anyone else? Is it because we are weak and want to appear strong? Is it a false impression of our own value?

How interesting that the last verse of the Psalms reads, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.”

Prayer:  Lord, give us an alert mind to recognize the many gifts we receive each day. Give us grateful hearts. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Today's Bible Verse:     Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Psalm 150:6

The Sound Of The Trumpets

An old Jewish legend claims that each day in heaven begins with the ringing sound that comes from a trumpet.

After Lucifer, once the son of the morning, had fallen from heaven, he was asked, “What do you miss most?” After a moment’s thought, he said, “The trumpets that sound in the morning.” The legend continues that the reason the trumpet sounded was to call people together to thank God for His love and mercy, grace and goodness.

Sadly, the “trumpet of thanksgiving” is absent from the lives of far too many Christians. The sounds of glory and gratitude have been replaced with groans of gloom and grief, greed and godless living.

But we are urged in Psalm 150: to “Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet.” Trumpets were used in Jewish ceremonies to remind worshipers of the greatness, glory, and goodness of God and to praise and thank Him.

Perhaps it would be a good idea if each church had a trumpet player to begin each worship service. Perhaps the sound of a well-played trumpet might remind us to “bow down” before our Creator and give Him thanks for His many blessings - the ones we are aware of and those who fall on us unannounced and unrecognized.

Giving thanks is an important part of life - especially in the life of a Christian. All that we have or will have, all that we are or will become is not accidental. Everything in our lives comes from the grace of God. And not to thank Him is to insult Him. In ourselves, we have no worth. We only have worth in, through, and by God’s grace.

Prayer:  God, give us grateful hearts - hearts filled with gratitude for Your love, grace, mercy, salvation, and hope! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Today's Bible Verse:    Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet. Psalm 150:3

The Beginning And The End

 The Psalms begin with a promise from God and end with a call to praise God. “Blessed is the man!” shouts the author. Any man? Every man? No. Indeed not. Blessed is “the” man who delights in and obeys the Words and the Ways of the Lord.

The Psalms end with a call to “Praise the Lord.” Any man? Every man? Yes. Yes, indeed. “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.”

The first Psalm makes a difference between the godly man and the ungodly man. But the concluding Psalm does not mention the ungodly. Why?

The godly are “like a tree that is planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” What a beautiful description of the godly: they are happy, have lived a worthwhile life, and will live forever!

But the ungodly? They are pictured with words of hopelessness. “They are like chaff,” writes the Psalmist, “that the wind blows away. Therefore, the wicked will stand in judgment, and sinners will not be in the assembly of the righteous.” The ungodly will not be safe on Judgment Day. Nor will they be invited to stand among the godly. What a tragedy. What an ending to lives that surely had opportunities to become godly: lives that were misspent, misdirected and mistaken.

No matter what we hear from politicians and social scientists, there are only two classes of people: the saved and the unsaved. And, two ends: heaven and hell.

Prayer:  Lord, we pray that the world would hear Your Word and Your voice and accept Your invitation to become godly people. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Today's Bible Verse:   Praise the LORD. Psalm 150:1

A Reason To Sing

Robert Lowry, a pastor in New York City, was going through a difficult time during an epidemic. Many who were suffering would die in a matter of hours. Day after day he stood beside the graves of those who had died and tried to give hope to their loved ones. On one occasion, however, his faith was deeply challenged, and he cried out to God, “Shall we meet again? Really? Can a gracious God do this to good people? We are parting at the river of death. Will we ever meet again at the river of life?” He took his doubt seriously and began to read his Bible on his knees. Finally, he found God’s answer, went to his organ, sat down and wrote the words and music to the great old hymn, “Yes, we’ll gather at the river that flows by the throne of God.”

The Steds were enjoying a beautiful day of sun and sand on the Long Island Sound. Suddenly, they heard a cry for help. With no thought for his safety, Mr. Sted ran into the water to rescue the boy - but failed. Mrs. Sted’s heart was broken when she returned to her empty home.

She fell on her knees and began to pray. God heard and helped her and gave her hope. She sat at her piano and wrote the beautiful hymn, “Tis so Sweet to Trust in Jesus.”

Mr. and Mrs. Clifford Bicker, missionaries to Peru, were waiting to board a ship that would take them home for a vacation. Just before boarding the ship, Mr. Bicker was killed in an accident. To comfort his wife and now fatherless children, Dr. Oswald Smith wrote the poem, “God Understands and Cares.”

Said the Psalmist, “Sing for joy on beds of pain.” He understands and cares!

Prayer:  How grateful we are Lord for the assurance of Your presence and peace, even when life seems senseless. And thank You for the voices of those through whom you send comfort. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Today's Bible Verse:  Sing for joy on beds of pain. Psalm 149:5b

Finding Beauty

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” is a very familiar saying. If we think about that saying for just a moment, it seems to suggest that there are two parts to beauty: the ones trying to make themselves beautiful and the ones who judge the outcome.

The latest information on the amount of money that is spent on beauty enhancing items is staggering:

Total cost of products worldwide: $426 billion.

Total cost in America: $33.3 billion.

Total cost per person in America: $15,000.

Some might say, “What a complete waste.” Someone else would probably say, “They should have spent much more.” And a third might say, “It didn’t make any difference no matter what they spent, so what’s the reason for spending the money to look better?  Why the effort?”

But the Psalmist said, “He crowns, and beautifies the humble with salvation.”

God can take a heart that is stained and soiled with sin and cleanse it from all impurities and make it beautiful. “Wash me,” cried one Psalmist, “and I will be whiter than snow.”

God can take the damage caused by sin, and the marks left from discouragement and depression and erase their marks, remove every tear and bring hope to our eyes, erase lines of guilt and put the joy of salvation on our faces. Jesus made an important promise when He said, “My peace I give unto you - not as the world gives peace” through false promises and praise.

 God can take a sin-scarred life and fill it with His glory and radiance. "Set me free from my prison," said the Psalmist. And we respond, “Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me!”

Prayer:  Only You, Father, can save us from sin, ourselves, and the insanity of this world. Come quickly and help us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Today's Bible Verse: For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation. Psalm 149:4b

Delighting God!

The word “delight” is often a disarming word. Why? What might delight me would not delight you. It’s a word that is in one sense personal, but in another way, universal. It always implies that something has happened to bring joy or satisfaction to another. Or, when used in the Bible, it brings great pleasure to God.

The Psalmist wrote: “The Lord takes great delight in His people.” Not all people or certain people or educated people or even wise people. He only takes delight in His people. Notice, also, that it is more than mere delight, it is a great delight.

So the question we must ask ourselves is this: “Who are His people?” Does God have favorites? Are there some people whom God loves more than others? Can anything be done to become one of His people that bring Him great delight? How can we get into that “inner circle” who are recognized as “His people?”

 When this verse was written, however, “His people” were those who were in a covenant relationship with Him. The verses that precede this verse describe people who, in particular, are praising the Lord. They are singing and dancing and making music by playing harps and tambourines - all signs of joyful worship to their God.

However, today we know that we are “saved by faith” through the New Covenant that He established through His Son. Faith in Christ is the first step if we want to become one of “His” people and enter into his Kingdom. To do so, we must accept His Son as our Savior.

Worship signifies humility – bowing down before God our Creator and Lord.  Only humble people are willing to accept Christ and worship the Lord. His people are humble people.

Prayer:  Lord, true worship means that we bow down before You - and only You - in humility and surrender. Humbly we bow and seek Your mercy. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Today's Bible Verse:     The Lord takes great delight in His people Psalm 149:4a

Singing A New Song

It is not possible to overestimate the significance of the Psalms. In them, we find the ideals of a God-filled life that reflect humility, worship, dependence, and service. In them, we find descriptions of men whose lives were in constant communion with God. We also find lives that reflect deep sorrow for sin and the search for holiness and perfection. We discover what walking in darkness is like - without fear gripping our hearts and controlling our minds because we see “faith at work.” We are confronted with the results of sin and the benefits of repentance, restoration, and righteousness. We see minds once tortured by guilt and shame restored to sanity by the grace and mercy of God as a result of His love. We see the beauty of God’s love in comparison to the tragedy of evil and wickedness. We see deep serenity following the storms of fear and danger.

More than any other book in the Bible, we see the tragic effects of sin in first-person stories. We also see what God can do for those who fall before Him and ask for His forgiveness. We see the roller-coaster of life ending in smooth seas of God’s peace for those who submit to and worship Him.

In the wisdom of God, His Spirit inspired the writers of the Psalms to take the experiences of men, who were as human as we are and give us a compass for life. The Psalms provide us with spiritual insight, wisdom, knowledge, and courage to deal with every issue of life.

We read in Psalm 149 that we are to “sing a new song.”

How is this possible when life is falling apart? Can there be any new songs?

Yes! “His mercies never cease!” New day! New Mercies! New songs!

Prayer:  Father, make us aware of the unending mercies we receive every day. Fill our hearts with new songs of joy. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Today's Bible Verse:    Praise the LORD. Sing to the LORD a new song. Psalm 149:1

What's In A Name?

Names are, in fact, a commodity. They have “value” attached to them and can either be “traded” for a favor or used as a “warning.” A name distinguishes one person from another and gives a certain distinctiveness or uniqueness to individuals. Some pay particular attention to their name to make certain that it implies integrity and truth, honesty and hard work, power and influence.

Most of us, from time to time, have been asked by others if they could “use our name” as a reference or as a way of introducing themselves. They assume that our names imply a degree of “significance” for one reason or another.

So, they reason, if they are associated with us in one way or another, it will make a difference in what they want to achieve.

But human names are all limited. They only have worth in certain areas and for a certain amount of time. If people do not know us or have never heard of us, we make no difference in the scheme of things.

There is an unusual statement made about a name in Psalm 148:13b - “His name alone is exalted.”

There is a certain “exclusiveness” in this statement. Of all the names of all the people who have ever lived, only one name is to be exalted. And that is because of who He is and what He has done. All other names are flawed or contaminated for one reason or another. His name is above and beyond reproach, worthy of worship and praise because He is holy and without fault.

All of us “fall short of the glory of God” and need a “name” that we can “use” to save us. That name? Jesus!

Prayer:  Thank You, Father, for the power in Your name. It assures us of forgiveness and salvation and life eternal. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Today's Bible Verse:    His name alone is exalted. Psalm 148:13b

Why Praise The Lord?

All of Scripture is punctuated with outbursts of “praise.” The reason? Praise rises spontaneously from an internal attitude of joy which is in the heart and life of the people of God. The Bible speaks of man being created to rejoice in God’s gifts and God’s grace and God’s goodness. Praising God should be as natural as breathing and as regular as the beating of our hearts.

Perhaps one of the significant aspects of “praising” is that it implies a close relationship with the one being praised. When we praise God, we are letting Him know that we are aware of and recognize His presence in our lives, that we are grateful for His benefits and blessings - big and small - and, that we are dependent on Him for all things. Consider this: If you give someone a gift, and they do not recognize you for it, do you feel unappreciated?

Along with praising God, however, is the duty to exalt His name. Exalt, in Scripture, means to elevate, to glorify and to recognize the place and power of the one being exalted. When we exalt God, we acknowledge His Lordship in our lives and recognize that He is above all, in all, and has control of all. As we lift Him up above all others, we naturally bow down in humility before Him.

“Let them praise the name of the Lord, for His name alone is exalted,” said the Psalmist. Strange, isn’t it, how the names of athletes and entertainers are more highly praised and exalted than God’s name. How very sad!

 But the day is coming when every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!

Prayer:  Lord, You are so thoughtful and generous. All that we are and have is because You care. Thank You! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Today's Bible Verse:   Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his splendor is above the earth and the heavens. Psalm 148:13a

Nothing New

Some years ago, a group of Navy scientists began to work on ways to change the direction of major storms. If they were able to do this, they reasoned they could direct them to do great damage to the enemy.

Furthermore, they thought, if they could direct the storms to disrupt the enemy, they would be able to control clouds and form high seas and waves. Also, they believed if they could create low, solid overcast clouds, they would be able to conceal troop movements.

But God used the weather to His advantage long before the military ever entertained the idea. A great story of God using the weather to accomplish His purpose is the story of Jonah.

One day the Lord said to Jonah, “Go to Nineveh.” But he refused to listen to God and decided to go to Tarshish. However, he never got there. The Lord had a plan for Jonah, and, to accomplish His plan He needed a hurricane. So, He “turned” one loose, and the crew of Jonah’s ship became frightened.

Jonah looked at them and said, “It’s all my fault. Go ahead and throw me overboard.” When they did, the sea stopped raging and became calm. But there’s more.

God then ordered a great fish to get involved in His plan. Soon, the great fish swallowed Jonah and took him for a ride. Finally, the great fish spewed him out, and he went to Nineveh. God does not put up with disobedience. If He has to, He’ll get all of nature to help Him accomplish His plan.

The Psalmist reminds us that “lightning and hail, snow and clouds, and stormy winds...do His bidding.”

Prayer:  Lord, we only fool ourselves if we think we can escape from Your plan. If wind and weather obey You, so should we! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Today's Bible Verse:   Fire and hail, snow and clouds, wind and weather that obey him. Psalm 148:8

The Ways Of The Wind

An army brigade was on a field training exercise in Texas near the Davis Mountains. Without warning, the skies turned dark, and the winds began to blow. Then, a swirling tornado began to travel across the training area. As it passed through the command area, a mangled mass of canvas with a soldier wrapped in the middle of it, dropped right in front of the colonel leading the exercise.

“Soldier,” barked the officer, “what nerve you have. Coming into my area without permission or cause. Have you no respect for your leader?”

“Sir,” said the soldier, trying to free himself from the ropes and canvas, “I had nothing to do with this. I was simply trying to put my tent up when the wind came through and picked me and my tent up, and away we went. And here I am, Sir.”

“But, I didn’t see the wind, soldier,” said the officer.

“Neither did I, Sir, but I sure felt it,” came the reply.

In the Bible, “wind” is an emblem of the Holy Spirit. And in Psalm 147:18 we read, “He sends the winds, and the ice thaws.”

On one occasion, Jesus said, “The wind blows where it wants to. You can hear the sound of the wind, but you have no idea where it came from nor where it is going. So you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.”

Nor can we explain the work of the Spirit. He is not predictable, nor do we understand Him. He is a gift of God who works in our lives to save us and empower us to serve.

Prayer:  We thank You, Father, for Your Spirit who gives us eternal life and strengthens us in our daily walk. Though You are unseen, we sense Your power. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Today's Bible Verse:  He sends the winds, and the ice thaws. Psalm 147:18b

In Vain Or In Victory?

Years ago, a letter was found in the pocket of a young soldier. He wrote it knowing that he would be in a fierce battle and his chances of survival were slim.

“Dear Mom,” he wrote. “Do you know why I feel sad right now? It’s not about dying that worries me. We both know that when my number is up, it’s up. There is nothing that we can do about that. I wouldn’t put it so crudely if we didn’t know the truth and if we could not be honest with one another. And, so I say humbly and without hypocrisy, ‘God’s will be done!’”

“As I said, Mom, it’s not the dying that bothers me. I will be calm right up until the end as you will be after you hear the news of my death. But what does worry, bother and matter most to me is this: Will I have died in vain?”

Paul, in writing to the Corinthians addressed “dying in vain” when he wrote: “We urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain.” Could it be possible, he wondered, that they could ignore Christ’s death? Did they doubt the message of Paul? Could they look at the cross and not see that the death of Jesus fulfilled the requirements of God?

“He,” Paul said, “will have died in vain if you do not accept His grace.” In other words, if we do not accept the death of Jesus as the door to eternal life, there is no life in Christ.

But what of those who have accepted God’s grace in Christ? The Psalmist expressed it in heart-touching words: “The Lord delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love.” Can we ask for more?

Prayer:  Father, we love You and thank You for the hope that we have in You. We would live in vain without You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Today's Bible Verse:   The Lord delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love. Psalm 147:11

God's Attitude About Strength

What Americans spend on nutritional supplements and bodybuilding is staggering. Consider these facts:

Sixty billion dollars were spent in January to lose weight.

One and one-half billion dollars are spent on food supplements each month.

There are over 32,000 health clubs in America.

The average cost per month of a gym membership is $55.00.

The total amount of money spent on gym memberships in 2020 was over $32 billion.

 The number of gym memberships in 2019 was over 64 million.

“Looking good” for many is much more important than “being good.” Taking pride in bulging muscles and well-toned bodies have become a way of life for many who worship themselves rather than God. It is difficult to watch TV without seeing commercials on how to “get ripped” or pills to lose weight or products that will extend life. The “beautiful body” has become an end for many.

However, the Psalmist staked our God’s position on all of this: “He takes no pleasure...in human might.”

Now, there’s nothing wrong with being physically fit. We are indebted to God to avoid doing anything to our body that would put it at risk for any disease that we can avoid. Why? We are obligated to Him to honor this “gift” and use it for His glory by serving Him. But, we cross a line when we worship our bodies and not the God who created them.

Prayer:  Lord, convict our hearts to care deeply about the gift of life and wellness You have given us. Then, would You teach us to use it to honor You? In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Today's Bible Verse:  He takes no pleasure in the strength of a horse or in human might. Psalm 147:10b

Look And Learn

There are many stories about birds in the Bible. And they all have their place. But of all the birds mentioned, the raven is close to the bottom of the list as far as having any importance. It is a large blackbird and belongs to the crow family. It is noisy and has a loud, rough, very emphatic cry. It’s not a bird that is filled with grace and charm.

Even young ravens, while in their nest, have a coarse call - especially at feeding time. Even so, when they call for food, the Lord hears them, and their mother then feeds them.

Jesus once said, “Look at the ravens - they don’t plant or harvest or have barns to store away their food, and yet they get along quite well. God feeds them. And you are far more important and valuable to Him than birds.”

If the Lord hears the cry of young birds for food, how much more will He hear the cry of His believers when they call out for mercy? If He looks out for birds, how much more will He look out for us? But we must do our part.

Shovels are not made to lean on; they are made to dig with. We cannot expect God to do for us what we will not do for ourselves. Work is as much a part of life as prayer and worship. Never forget that Jesus worked for a living before He began His public ministry. Even though His Father created the world, Jesus set an example for us by working to meet His needs. Our ability to work is a gift from God, and He expects us to work to the best of our ability and for His glory.

The writer of Proverbs said it best: “Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity.”

Prayer:  Thank You, Lord, for the ability to work. Help us follow Your example and do what we do to honor You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Today's Bible Verse:  He gives food to the wild animals and feeds the young ravens when they cry. Psalm 147:9

God's Never-Ending Grace

George and Will had been best friends since they were in grade school. Unfortunately, Will was having a difficult time financially. So, he went to George and said, “I’m having a difficult time with my finances. Can you help me out with a loan until I get back on my feet?”

“Sorry, Will, I just can’t do that,” said George.

“We have been best friends forever,” said Will. “How can you do this to me? We grew up together, studied for our exams together, and went camping together. And, I even rescued you when you were about to drown. Why, George?”

“I remember all those fun times together, Will. They were good times, and I think of them often. But here’s the question: What have you done for me lately?” said George.

Often we ask God the same question: “What have you done for me lately? I know that You love me because You sent Your Son to be my Savior. And, I know You have answered my prayers in the past. But where are You now when I need You? Have You given up on me?”

The Psalmist in his wisdom said, “He covers the sky with clouds; He supplies the earth with rain and makes the grass grow on the hills.” However, we must remember one fact: He always does what He said He would do: but in His time and on His terms.

The beloved spiritual reminds us that “He’s got the whole world in His hands,” and continues by making it personal, “He’s got you and me, brother, in His hands.”

Our God is a powerful God and a personal God. He cares for us and will never abandon us. When we don’t get what we need when we want it, trust Him. It’s coming.

Prayer:  Father, there’s no doubt that You love us and will meet our every need. Please add patience to our trust. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Today's Bible Verse:  He covers the sky with clouds; He supplies the earth with rain and makes the grass grow on the hills. Psalm 147:8

Our Limitless Lord

“Understanding,” said an angry husband, “is one thing my wife knows nothing about.” No doubt, there are many who would make the same statement anytime they feel that they are misunderstood. Not only do we want to be loved, but we all want to be understood as well. And all too often, when we pour out our heart to our dearest friend, it seems that they, too, don’t really care.

How precious, then, are the words of the Psalmist: “Great is our Lord and mighty in power, His understanding has no limit.” Our God is a God whose understanding is unlimited!

God knows our abilities as well as our possibilities, what we can and cannot do. When we understand and accept that simple fact, we will realize that He is the only one who can direct and guide us each day of our lives. He has given each of us a special skill set and has endowed us with talents and gifts that are uniquely ours and to be used for His glory. So, when He offers us an opportunity to serve Him, He will take the gifts that He has given us and empower us to do what He has called us to do.

God also knows our spiritual limitations. We must never forget for a moment that He alone can deliver us from the temptations of life if we want Him to! If we trust Him and turn to Him, we can be assured that “no temptation will ever overpower us.” If, when we are being tempted, we turn to Him for an escape route, He will deliver us from anything that will destroy us.

He is great, mighty and understanding. Trust Him!

Prayer:  Lord, when we come to the end of our limits, may we realize that we are just at the beginning of Yours. You understand our hurts better than we do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Today's Bible Verse:  Great is our Lord and mighty in power, His understanding has no limit. Psalm 147:5

Just Try!

Mrs. Burrell, my fourth-grade science teacher, often visited the students in her class at night to teach them how to identify the various constellations. Now and then she would ask, “Well, how many stars can you count tonight?” No one was ever able to give an accurate accounting. But we would giggle and make up some unreasonable number just to humor her.

However, on a clear night, it is possible to see about two thousand stars. With some of the large telescopes now used to research the universe, astronomers can take a photograph and count about thirty billion. Even so, there are still many more billions that are beyond the power of the eye of the telescope.

Sir James Jeans once suggested that there are as many stars as there are grains of sand on all the beaches of the planet. So, there’s a good reason why no one has been able to number them.

Except One. “He determines the number of stars and calls each by name.” Now, that may be difficult to believe. But, when we realize His power and might and majesty, it fits right into His character.

Numbers, however, are not as important as His love. However, our great God, Who created and named the stars and hung them in orbit, is more interested in us than He is in His stars. In fact, He loved us so much that He gave His only Son for our salvation. This God of measureless might is also a God of limitless love. And this very God extends an invitation to us to become one of His children.

Prayer:  How blessed we are, Lord, that we are of such value to You that You willingly gave Your Son to save us. You know the stars, and us, by name. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Today's Bible Verse:  He determines the number of stars and calls each by name. Psalm 147:4

Healing Hearts - Binding Wounds

 No matter where we look, we find pain and suffering.

Hospitals are crowded with people who were once healthy but are now waiting to heal. Our prisons are filled with shattered lives and unfulfilled dreams where hope once lived. Mental institutions have waiting lists for troubled minds and broken spirits. Divorce courts are now busier than ever as people “uncouple.”

Every home seems to have its share of sadness. Eyes once filled with joy and expectation are filled with blank stares. Hearts that once sang praises are now hushed in silence because doubt and fear have overcome faith. Minds once focused on “things above” are now filled with self-centeredness and greed.

Years ago, there were craftsmen who were “jacks of all trades - masters of none.” George placed a sign above the door to his shop that read: “We can mend everything but broken hearts and bodies.”

But the Psalmist reminds us of the One who can do just that: “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”

Recently, I sat in the office of my neurosurgeon to review my post-surgery status. As I sat there, I reflected on all who were involved in “restoring” my health: nurses, surgeons, pharmacists, anesthesiologists, dieticians - and the list seemed endless. And then God spoke to me and said, “You’re right. They were only involved. It’s up to Me and My Father’s grace as to what the outcome would be.”

“He” - and only “He” - can bind up wounds and bring healing.

Prayer:  Help us, Lord, to realize what You can do in us, for us, through us and with us because You truly love us. Then we can truly rest in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Today's Bible Verse: He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3

Which Way Is The Right Way?

Walter had been out for a night of drinking with a group of men whom he thought were his friends. When he left them, he got turned around and was going the wrong way on a one-way street. A police officer stopped him and asked, “Where do you think you are going?”

In slurred speech, he said, “I’m not sure officer. But I must be too late. Everybody’s coming back, and I’m just getting started.”

Disregarding traffic signs will usually get us in trouble here on earth. But disregarding God’s signs that point to everlasting life will certainly get us in trouble in the life to come. In the end, there are only two ways to live: righteously or unrighteously. And the choice is ours to make. Either we choose to live by God’s words and His ways or our ways that we design for ourselves.

Jesus told an interesting story. On one occasion He was talking about life’s choices. He said: “Listen, you have a choice. If you want to get into heaven, be aware of this - the gate is very narrow.” Then He continued, “On one hand, the highway to hell is wide enough so all who want to travel it together can do so. It’s wide, and it’s easy going, but the choice is yours. On the other hand, the Gateway to Life Eternal is rather small, and the road is quite narrow. Now, only a few will make it, but I’ll be with them to help them when things get tough. But the choice,” He concluded, “is yours.”

“The Lord loves the righteous,” said the Psalmist. And it is His love that will protect us from danger and destruction on our journey.

Prayer:  We truly need You, Lord, to lead us on the right path to make the right decisions to live a righteous life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Today's Bible Verse:  The Lord loves the righteous. Psalm 146:8c