Friday, August 29, 2008
But it wasn't long before they forgot the whole thing,
wouldn't wait to be told what to do.
They only cared about pleasing themselves in that desert,
provoked God with their insistent demands.
He gave them exactly what they asked for—
but along with it they got an empty heart. MSG
O Dear God!
It makes me sick to think how much I’m like the Israelites! I have seen Your mighty works! I too was a slave. Addictions, attractions and afflictions owned me. I was held captive by power, prestige, and possessions. Satisfaction, security, and significance seized me. The excruciating work was unending. I was hopeless and helpless until You came along and miraculously purchased me. Setting me free, You promised me a bigger, better and brighter future – a gloriously beautiful home in heaven, and a fortune beyond my imagination. I was eager and excited to pursue a new life with You.
Sadly, I’ve lost focus and forgot all that You’ve done for me. Wandering in the wilderness, I can no longer see heaven on the horizon. The hope I had for a great fortune is gone. I’ve lost sight of You and am unhappy. I don’t like the uncomfortable living conditions. It’s not what I expected. Sin, suffering and sorrow have scorched me. I’m parched by problems and pain. Kicking and screaming like a spoiled child, I want to go home! I crave the pleasures and treasures left behind. I can’t wait for You! I’m going to do it my way!
O God, have mercy on me for my little faith! I don’t want to be like the contentious Israelites! I see what happened to them. You gave them exactly what they asked for – but along with it they got an empty heart! Please don’t let my heart be empty! Fill it with to overflowing with Your love and power. Then, in the midst of my misery, I’ll rejoice and give thanks to You for accomplishing Your will in my life. I’ll be able to sing sweet songs of salvation in my sadness, and powerfully plead for patience during pain. Full of You, I’ll smile when I feel like crying and keep walking vigorously toward the heavenly home You promised because of Jesus. Amen.
Are you like me, unable to wait while wandering in the wilderness? I encourage to you to make a list of all the miracles God has done for you. Carry it with you as you walk with Him and remember His promises! He didn’t promise it would be easy. He did promise to supply you with sufficient strength to endure all situations. Will you believe Him?
A few of the miracles God has given me:
He set me free from my sins. He adopted me and gave me a new life, despite my deficiencies. He allows me to represent His kingdom on earth. He entrusts me with His Word. He walked with me slowly through the valley of death, allowing me to pick a beautiful bouquet of blessings as we went. He has called a faithful prayer team to protect my family and me. He has been so good to me! I hope I’ll always remember!
“Life is hard, but my heart is harder. I’d rather complain than rejoice in my circumstances.”
Thursday, August 28, 2008
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.
I’m thankful for Your on-going instruction on how to wait for You. When I feel lost and alone, I shouldn’t grumble, complain or make a lot of noise. Rather, I should be still, silently expecting You to lead me to the good fortune I’m seeking.
You’ll open up the sacred Treasure Chest of Scripture when we’re alone together. Diligently, I’ll dig through it perusing each costly command and precious promise. While I wait, I’ll ponder them, prayerfully asking You, the Owner, perplexing questions. In response, You’ll give me a complete understanding of Your amazing grace and incredible love. I’ll discover that there is nothing more valuable than Your priceless blood that purchased my pardon. Accepting it will prosper me with glorious power to endure problems and pressures peacefully. Carrying the bright and beautiful jewels of power, peace and patience in my heart will illuminate the Way through the darkness of difficulty to heaven where I can anticipate living happily ever after with You.
Jesus, You are the Good Fortune that I seek. In You, are all the riches of heaven that will satisfy the deepest desires of my heart. Please give me more patience to seek You while I wait for the glory of Your name. Amen.
What are you seeking while you wait for your trial to end?
I encourage you to peruse your Bible for God’s commands and promises while you wait. Examine them carefully. Cover them in prayer. When you do, you’ll discover the Good Fortune you’ve always been seeking and be satisfied.
Jeremiah 29: 13-14
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Do not fret because of evil men
or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither,
like green plants they will soon die away.
Trust in the LORD and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Delight yourself in the LORD
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.
Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when men succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret—it leads only to evil.
For evil men will be cut off,
but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land.
I’m overwhelmed by the secrets You share with me when I open my Bible and my heart. Your Word corrects my wayward thinking. All these years I’ve been waiting for passing pleasures. Fame and fortune will fade. Good health will eventually wilt and wither. Beauty will flee like a dying flower. The hustle and bustle will come to a screeching halt when I appear before Your holy throne. In the meantime, I’m waiting in the outer courts to see You. In the classroom of my heart You tell me precisely how to be productive while I wait. This is a difficult lesson for my stubborn soul. Please help me to practice until I can perform it beautifully for You.
While I wait, I should:
- Believe that You’ll be faithful to Your promises (v3)
- Do good deeds (v3)
- Remain in the place where You put me without wandering off or wishing for greener pastures (v3)
- Enjoy Your provision and protection (v3)
- Hang out with You, enjoying your friendship as I read Your Word and pray (v4)
- Hand over everything to You – my life, my family, my job, and my possessions – with confident expectation that You will care for them better than I can (v5)
- Be calm and quiet in the waiting room – no grumbling and complaining about the long wait! (v7)
- Never be envious, angry, or anxious (v1, 7, 8)
For practicing patience, You promise to give me the desires of my heart – a deeper, more intimate relationship with You. You are the only Way to peace and everlasting happiness! While I wait, You promise to sustain me and keep me safe. You’ll make me glow with the purity and warmth of the Son. Please help me practice relying on Your loving kindness and sovereignty. I’ll perform beautifully, for You my King, by trusting in Your power, protection and provision day by day. Waiting won’t be a waste of time, but a worthwhile investment in the kingdom of heaven. Amen.
Wow! God taught me several lessons today that will require a lot of extra practice to perform!
- It’s easy to desire someone else’s fame, fortune, health or lifestyle. I need to learn to be content where I am, with the things I have.
- Caught in the hustle and bustle of the world, I realized that my irritation and anxiety while waiting in traffic, doctor offices, and airports is a waste of energy.
- While I’m huffing and puffing about the situation, I could practice praying!
Often, I pursue passing pleasures, without even pondering God’s promises!
Minutes after I wrote this, I went to the post office to buy some stamps. I walked in and noticed that the guy in front of me had about six huge boxes to ship! With a big sigh and roll of my eyes, I huffed out the door to the self-service stamp machine. I was not happy!
Two hours later, I found myself in a line at the grocery store with a seemingly incompetent cashier. Again, I found myself irritated and annoyed! Aware of my attitude, I began to pray for her.
This is going to be difficult journey!
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
My soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.
I admit I’m a most impatient child! Even though You promise special blessings for those who quietly wait, it’s a very difficult assignment for me! I’m living in a fast-paced world where we drive fast cars through fast food restaurants, gobbling the grub as we speed down the freeway. Instant cash at ATM’s and instant information on the internet provide for instant gratification. And I wonder why waiting is hard!
Please dear Lord, slow me down! I want off this race track! Rather than speeding to keep up with everyone else, worrying about my security, career and relationships, I want to deliberately depend on Your provision and protection. Instead of pursuing power, prestige, and possessions for pleasure, I want to down shift, allowing You to take me to everlasting happiness. Zooming through life I miss out on opportunities to serve You; consequently, also losing the rich rewards You pay Your workers.
At break-neck speed my perception is poor and my vision distorted as in the darkness of night. I simply can’t see clearly! Going at a slower, safer speed I’ll begin to see You for who You really are: loving, kind and reliable. I’ll come to depend on You for power, provision and protection. I’ll learn to trust Your principles, promises and purposes. Concentrating on Your goodness, I’ll find peace and hope in Your Word, the Bible.
Please fill me with patience to endure the long, silent night of my soul, eagerly expecting the definitive morning when the Son will rise and warm my heart with heavenly hope for Your namesake. Amen.
Most of us are waiting for something – a promotion or pay increase, a diagnosis or cure, the death of a loved one, a trial and verdict, a wayward child to come home, to overcome an addiction or bad habit, to win the lottery or lose a few pounds, for a voice at Verizon to pick up the phone or a computer to respond …
What are you waiting for? Are you impatient, like me, trying to devise your own schemes and plans to get ahead? I encourage you to slow down and go with God. In His Word you will find the only Way to peace and everlasting happiness.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. NLT
Thank You, Lord, for showing me the secret path to the high throne of heaven. It is not through weeping or working. It isn’t through studying or serving. Offering my time without heartfelt devotion is inadequate. Presenting my talent without wholehearted dedication is insufficient. Halfheartedly giving my treasure out of obligation is inappropriate. You don’t want religious ceremonies and showy performances. The only walkway to the peace, contentment and security of a throne-life is to follow You with all my heart.
It will please You when, by faith, I humbly come to the foot of the cross admitting my faults and failures allowing the bond of Your blood to fix and fortify me. Realizing the high price You paid to correct my defects will give me a deeper desire to walk Your way. I’ll willingly give up family, friends and freedom in order to spend time getting to know You better. The more I know You, the more readily I’ll abandon my ambitions in order to do Your will. Forfeiting my comfortable lifestyle and social status to suffer hardship will perfect my faith, make me shine purer and brighter, and draw others to You.
Believing that I am who You say I am: a chosen child who is holy and blameless in Your sight, today I choose to freely set aside my dreams and desires to follow You to the throne room of heaven where I’ll have access to Your almighty power, divine authority and perfect guidance. Claiming my proper position beside You, my eyes will constantly be drawn to You, my strength will only come from You, and my actions will be wholly pleasing to Your name. Hallelujah! Amen.
God is ready and willing to show you the way to the throne room of heaven where you will find peace, contentment, and security in all circumstances. He promises to share the secret path with the humble. (Psalm 25:9, 14)
He doesn’t care how much you weep or work; study or serve. He doesn’t care how good or bad you’ve been. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor; neat or unkempt. All He wants is your whole heart devoted to following Him wherever He goes at any cost.
David Wilkerson writes, “This is the sacrifice every believer must make if He is to know the mind of God. The Lord never shares his plans with those who hold onto their own devices. Why would He direct anyone who’s determined to go their own way?”
“Dear saint, the throne room is now open to you. Accept what Christ has done, and boldly take your position with him, by faith. He accepts your resigned will. Now, ask Him to open the eyes of your understanding. And confess, ‘I believe what the Lord says about me: that I’m a conquering prince. I also believe that I’m where He says I am: in the throne room of heaven. I’m sitting with Him in a place of authority over all of Satan’s works. Hallelujah, Amen.”
World Challenge Inc., Publications, Time Square Pulpit Series August 2, 2004
Friday, August 22, 2008
Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God. Understand what the Lord wants you to do. NLT
Thank You God my Father for clearly differentiating between appropriate laughter and inappropriate laughter. In Your home there is no tolerance for vulgarity.
Laughing at obscene stories, foolish talk and coarse jokes is forbidden. Unfortunately, the world we live in is full of entertainment that is morally repugnant. The movie and television industry either makes comedy of that which is holy, right, and good, or has us cracking-up at the crude, profane, and disgusting. Magazines promote passion and pleasure, while radio blares blaspheme. This momentary humor is merely a short-lived vapor that passes quickly, leaving a void in the soul that will lead to the brink of destruction. Forgive me for finding this kind of filth funny.
Godly laughter on the other hand is an expression of our heartfelt appreciation for the generous gifts You’ve so graciously given us. As we hang out with You in Bible study and prayer, we’ll be entertained with wholesome stories that will build up our character. We’ll be amused and amazed by Your transforming touch of greatness on our lives. We’ll laugh at things that are good, right and true. Encouraging words that are lovely and admirable will put a smile on our face and a song in our heart. This life-giving laughter will fill the hole in our heart with love, joy, and peace that will lead us to everlasting hope.
Please dear Lord, give me a deeper appreciation for the good gifts You’ve given me. Help me to avoid being amused by immorality, and anoint my lips with praiseworthy words that will make a soul stooped over from the weight of sorrow smile because of Jesus. Amen.
Laughter speaks louder than words. Can people recognize that you are from the family of God by the things that make you laugh?
Be careful to understand the difference between biblical laughter and worldly laughter. One brings Him the glory, the other defamation.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
There is a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance.
Thank You for divinely appointing times to weep and mourn, as well as, times to laugh and dance. When everything around me seems to be falling apart, the only way to find stability and security, peace and joy is to climb up on Your great big lap, pour out my heart, and trust You to work out the details for my good and Your glory.
You are the Creator of tears. They are absolutely precious to You! Collecting them in a bottle, You carefully record each and every one of them in Your book. I’m worn out from sobbing and You know it. All night I flood my bed with weeping, drenching it with tears because contemptible people blatantly disobey and disrespect You. Overwhelmed by the heavy weight of the burdens You’ve laid on my back, tears have become my steady diet while proud people knock on my door wondering where in the world You are. Overcome by pain and problems, I cry out to You for grace and mercy. Amazingly, in the midst of complete chaos and confusion, You hear my heart-shattered soul weeping for release, and come to my rescue.
Lovingly You pick up my crushed spirit, carrying me into Your splendid home. Trusting You to tenderly wipe away my tears, my multitude of hurts begin to heal. Gradually, You fill the hole in my heart with love and laughter. With the anguish gone, I can jubilantly jump down from Your great big lap to dance, laugh, and celebrate Your love that is better than life. My lips glorify You, O Lord, the Creator of laughter and tears, who graciously restores broken hearts for the glory of Your name. Amen.
There is a time to weep and mourn, and a time to laugh and dance.
Read through the Psalms and look at the sorrows that made this man after God’s own heart weep: He mourns over sin – his own, as well as, the sins of others; in physical anguish, when his bones are crushed, he agonizingly pours out his heart to His Father in heaven; distressed in times of loss, defeat and discouragement he expresses heartfelt sadness. There is an appropriate time to weep and mourn.
On the other hand, God doesn’t want us to constantly sulk. He created laughter and dancing and ordered time for them too. The Psalms are full of appropriate times for laughter and dancing – usually after deliverance. Discover them and let your heart sing.
While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God. Hebrews 5:7
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
A happy heart makes the face cheerful,
but heartache crushes the spirit.
Proverbs 17: 22
A cheerful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
Father in Heaven-
I praise You for Your incredible ancient wisdom.
A casual glance at the world, with its wars, hatred, violence and evil makes me sad. Every day I see and hear horrible accounts of hurting people who in turn, inflict injuries on others. It grieves me that so many people in my community are crushed and hopeless. Yet, in the midst of crisis and catastrophe, there are stories and images that provoke a chuckle and a smile.
Thank You for the great gifts of laughter and cheer. A merry heart is used to bring healing and wholeness to that which would otherwise be brittle and broken. You know we need a good dose of cheer in these difficult days to bring a smile to our faces. A spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down curing a crushed spirit and broken heart.
Please dear Lord, help me to unwrap Your enduring joy, peace and contentment when everything else around me seems to be falling apart. I don’t have to stay in the dark dungeon of despair. Since You sent Your Son to rescue me, my glum days can change to glad days. With my heart, soul and mind focused on living happily ever after in the kingdom of heaven, I’ll naturally smile and warmly greet others with a kind and encouraging word. Please make me a bubbling fountain of laughter where people can come, drink and be healed for Your namesake. Amen.
Who can you offer a spoonful of sugar today? There are hurting people everywhere. Take time to stop and notice them. Smile and offer them a kind word of encouragement. It may just be the medicine they need to cure their crushed spirit.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
The One enthroned in heaven laughs;
the Lord scoffs at them.
Then he rebukes them in his anger.
Father in Heaven,
I picture You sitting on Your majestic throne in the sky watching the world go by with a twinkle in Your holy eye. From Your high and lofty perch You see prideful people pushing for position and power. Defiant individuals ignorantly try to outwit You with their outrageous schemes. The puny presumptuous plans of man must amuse You! After a while, You get good and mad, furiously shutting them up by cleverly chiding them like You did the Pharisees:
The picture of the hopelessly blind religious scholars straining a gnat out of their drink, but swallowing a camel is ridiculous. (Matt 23:24)
The illustration of the foolish Pharisees cleaning the outside of their cup so it sparkles in the sun, while the inside is covered in maggots of greed and grime is comical. (Matt 23:25-26)
When talking about entering the Kingdom of Heaven, You told many silly stories to make Your point. The one about the camel going through the eye of a needle is ludicrous. (Mark 10:25)
I can only imagine the sparkle in Your eye when You taught about the fault-finder. "Why do you notice a speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye, but not notice the big hunk of wood in your own eye?” (Matt. 7:3)
There are many times when I’m rebellious and rude. Boisterously demanding control, I insist on breaking loose from You and doing things my own way. From Your throne in heaven, You must smirk at my stupidity. Then, You reprimand me through extremely embarrassing situations that make me look like an utter fool.
O Lord, when You look down on me from high in the sky, I don’t want to look ridiculous, nor do I particularly want to experience Your rebuke! Please temper my arrogant attitude with Your sweet Spirit so that You will witness me joyfully worshipping You as I serve others for the glory of Your name. Amen.
When God looks down on you what does He see? Do you think He’s pleasantly beaming because of your joyful worship, or scornfully laughing at your foolishness?
Be careful! Use your head and learn your lesson from the past experiences of the Pharisees, or God might humiliate you.
Monday, August 18, 2008
When the LORD restored his exiles to Jerusalem,
it was like a dream!
We were filled with laughter,and we sang for joy.
And the other nations said,
"What amazing things the LORD has done for them."
Yes, the LORD has done amazing things for us!
What joy! NLT
Loving Lord of Laughter-
I rejoice that You’re not a God of sadness, but the Lord of joy. Thank You for the gift of laughter. I respectfully recognize that You’re a holy, reverent, authoritative Judge. I also know, at the end of the day, You’re a loving Father with a lighter side who comes home to play and amuse His children. You created us for Your pleasure. Along with the dark realities of corruption, affliction and loss, there is lighthearted laughter, and liveliness. Throughout Your Holy Book, there are celebrations and laughter. Feasts, parties, reunions, and weddings abound in Your Kingdom. There’s many occasions to celebrate.
It’s an honor to celebrate each other’s victories over challenges. It is our way of thanking You for the great things You have done. Our hearts dance and leap for joy when a lost sibling returns home. Love tickles our hearts when You perform a miracle before our very eyes and restore them. Your home is not always sober and solemn. It is often a delightful place of amusement, excitement, and enjoyment. As Your beloved children, we have the right to play, pray and laugh together!
Please help me to adopt a lighter attitude and see the funny side of every day situations. With a light heart, I will be resilient when times are tough. Anger and anxiety will dissipate when I exert enthusiasm, excitement and energy. Bless me with a sense of humor that will infect the unbelievers I meet today with a contagious chuckle. When I laugh with them, our hearts will bond. They will want to join in the party when they see the fun we have together because of Jesus. Amen.
Imagine! Christians can have fun! Have a good belly laugh with someone today. It’s likely to be contagious! Humor is the healing balm that covers hidden hurts and heartache.
Jesus said, “We had to celebrate and be glad.” Luke 15:32
Friday, August 15, 2008
I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
My Sufficient Supplier,
Thank You for showing me the secret to a satisfying life: Relying on your promises, looking for Your provision, and depending on Your power.
Satan tries to seduce me with human solutions to satisfaction, security and significance. Cleverly, he convinces me that I can’t be happy without certain possessions. Subtly, he persuades me that I’m insignificant without a prominent position. Masterfully, he manipulates me to look for respect and approval from powerful people. Cunningly, He confuses me, complicating my problems by making them seem bigger than really are. Discontent with who I am, where I’m going, and what I have, it’s tempting to reach into his bag of tricks for an instant, momentary solution.
The more I know You, the less likely I’ll be to buy into his smooth sales pitch. Full of Your wisdom, I’ll be wary of his gimmicks. Relying on Your promises, I’ll have a clear perspective. I’ll realize that trinkets and treasures can’t buy eternal pleasure, only Your precious blood can. Prominent positions aren’t as prestigious as they appear when I understand that all authority belongs to You. Suddenly, people I perceived to be strong will appear weak and unimportant. Abruptly, the dimension of my difficulties will diminish when I realize that they’re part of Your plan to purify and perfect me for a greater purpose.
I need to hang out with You more frequently reading Your Word, praying ceaselessly, and socializing with other believers. Then, I’ll be able to rest on Your promises. Knowing who You are will supply me with the satisfaction, security and significance I’m seeking. I’ll be content when I believe that I am who You say I am: Your beloved child, an heir to an unimaginable inheritance. I’ll be satisfied knowing where You’re taking me: heaven, my glorious, eternally beautiful home. And, while I wait, I’ll be happy with what You’ve given me: peace, provision and a quiet place for my soul to patiently rest.
Please help me to be joyful and thankful in all circumstances believing that You’ll generously supply all my needs in the name of Jesus, Your Son. Amen.
What are you relying on today for your source of satisfaction, security and significance?
Thursday, August 14, 2008
I wait quietly before God,
for my salvation comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress where I will never be shaken.
So many enemies against one man--
all of them trying to kill me.
To them I'm just a broken-down wallor a tottering fence.
They plan to topple me from my high position.
They delight in telling lies about me.
They are friendly to my face,
according to what they have done. NLT
My soul silently waits for You. My rest is in You alone. You are my rock and my salvation. Nothing can ever separate me from You! I run to You for shelter and protection. There, I calmly, quietly, patiently wait for the wicked world to pass.
The world is pursuing me, tempting me to join in the pursuit for power, prestige, possessions, and pleasure. Everywhere I turn, there is another demand for my time, talent, and treasure. The Prince of Darkness fully intends to topple me from my lofty and safe haven with You. All around me, people delight in his lies. They try to lure me by speaking persuasive words that sound good, pleasing and delightful, but in their hearts, they are deceitful. Before getting too excited about new attractive ideas, I will carefully examine the things I hear against Your Word. Please fill me with more knowledge and wisdom so that I can determine if I am hearing the Truth.
The temptation to abandon You can sneak up on me as a whisper of doubt. I will overcome the whisper of temptation by pouring out my heart to You. You will help me as I pray and diligently study Your Word. I will be devoted to You because You are strong, loving and dependable. I will love You with all my heart and soul. I will follow and fear You since You are my hope and my salvation. I will do my best to keep Your commands because I long for the promised reward to those who love and obey You. I believe You when You say, “The Son of Man is going to come in His Father’s glory with His angels, and then He will reward each person according to what he has done.”
Instead of chasing the world, I am choosing to pursue You, Jesus, the One and Only. Amen.
Who are you chasing the world or the Lord?
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
I am he, I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;
I will sustain you and I will rescue you.
Some pour out gold from their bags
and weigh out silver on the scales;
they hire a goldsmith to make it into a god,
and they bow down and worship it.
They lift it to their shoulders and carry it;
they set it up in its place, and there it stands.
From that spot it cannot move.
Though one cries out to it, it does not answer;
it cannot save him from his troubles.
Lord, how much we Americans are like the Israelites – stubborn-hearted and far from righteous! Have mercy on us and teach us to put You in Your proper place.
Captivated by concrete things we can touch and see, we pour out our wealth to build bigger houses to hold our fine collection of treasured possessions. We light them up and show them off like trophies in a display case. At the same time we’re erecting the homes of our dreams, we’re paying premiums to plastic surgeons to make us new images.
Lifting up our treasures, we proudly carry them around on our broad shoulders bragging about our success as we continually strive to improve and impress. Bogged down beneath the dead weight of debt we cry out from behind our fake faces to our big houses to save us, but they cannot. They are merely inanimate objects that stand still, stiff, solid and silent – cold as concrete.
If we’d only invest our time opening our Bibles and contemplating the Abstract we’d comprehend that You are an amazingly animated Architect who intricately designs human souls with a firm foundation that will stand forever, made to store Your imperishable, invaluable inheritance. Strong and secure, You and You alone will sustain us and carry us through the storms. Bogged down beneath the dead weight of debt when we sincerely cry out to You to save us, You’ll rush in and rescue us to display Your glory.
To whom can we compare You or count as Your equal? You are incomparable! You are God and there is no other. There is none like You. Teach us O God to put You in Your proper place, and to trust in the Abstract so that we won’t be bogged down by the concrete. Amen.
Strolling along the waterfront in beautiful Balboa Beach, California I was mesmerized by the parade of grandiose homes. Behind the well-lit glass of every house, I gazed and gasped at the fine collections of pretty possessions that were perfectly exhibited for everyone passing by to see. In front of the homes, luxurious boats were docked on the inlet with the moon beams glistening on their masts. Shiny Mercedes, BMWs and Lexuses were parked in the narrow streets. As I walked the town in my basic blue jeans and dollar-store flip-flops, I must have stuck out like a sore thumb, but my soul was satisfied, so it didn’t matter.
Leaving town, a vast Cosmetic Surgery Center captured my attention. Enthralled by their large homes, luxury toys, and fake faces, I found myself wondering: Who answers them when they cry out in the storms? They aren’t immune to trouble. Who rescues them when the floods come? Sadly, these things will not save them. They are merely concrete.
We would be wise to live simply, build on the Abstract foundation of Jesus Christ, and display His glory. Unbelievers are on the outside looking into our lives. What do they see when they look at you and your lifestyle? Do they see the concrete or the Abstract?
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
A righteous man may have many troubles,
but the LORD delivers him from them all;
2 Corinthians 1:9-10
Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us.
Every time I open the newspaper there’s another article relating to cancer. Recently in the local paper there was a gigantic headline: SCARED SICK. It reported that Americans are scared sick of getting cancer.
Everything seems to be harmful to humans - the air, the sun, and a plethora of consumables. Household products like laundry detergent and oven cleaner and pet-flea control contain deadly toxins. Personal items like lipstick, deodorant, and talcum powder are under suspicion. It’s not safe to eat processed meat. Fresh fruits and vegetables are coated with contaminants. Plastic baby bottles, granite counter tops, and ordinary office supplies are a health risk. Most recently, the fear-tinged tizzy has been on cell-phones, our artificial appendage.
While the media frantically feeds us fear, one researcher boldly announced, “Cancer scares the Hell out of us.” As well it should! Another researcher commented, “As a society we are so focused on the sound bite of getting an answer. We don’t dig deeply enough to understand the nuances.”
O Lord, have mercy on us! It’s easier to focus on fear and seek intellectual answers than it is to dig deeply into Your Word and understand the truth. Your Word is full of promises that have stood the test of time. Those who know You have no reason to be scared sick. You never promised we’d live on Easy Street, but rather reside on Rough Road. A head-on collision with cancer is inevitable – for ourselves or someone we know. But, we don’t have to be afraid because we have a Savior!
Indeed in our hearts we’ll feel the inescapable sentence of death when we, or someone we love, receives a cancer diagnosis. But, when we know You and Your faithful promises, we’ll be confident that it’s happened so that we won’t rely on our own mind or strength, but fully trust You - the One who raises the dead – to keep us from the doom of eternal damnation. Instead of being scared of it, we’ll believe that You’ll deliver us through the deadly peril to Heaven where we’ll live and reign with You forever and ever because of Jesus our Savior. Hallelujah! Amen.
Are you, like the majority of society, consumed by the fear of cancer? It’s wise to live healthy, eat right, exercise regularly and avoid deadly toxins, but there’s no reason to be scared sick when you know the Savior. Determine to know your Savior more so that when you receive the inevitable sentence of death, you won’t be scared of it, but trust instead, that He will deliver you from it’s deadly peril to Heaven where you will live forever.
I know firsthand the truth of God’s Word. Both of my parents have received the death sentence. God has delivered my Mom from death’s grip and healed her, while delivering my Dad to Heaven’s Gate. If anyone is destined for a head-on collision with cancer it’s my family and me, but we’re not scared of it. We have the hope of heaven - Jesus! Glory, hallelujah!
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.
Monday, August 11, 2008
His way is in the whirlwind and the storm.
The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble.
He cares for those who trust in him.
O Wild and Wonderful One!
Your Word is both frightening and fabulous. It leaves me trembling and troubled, yet confident and courageous. It’s scary to think You allow storms to rage, putting me in mortal danger. Fiercely determined to bring me to the end of myself, You want me to be fully dependent on You. When the sun is shining and the sea is calm I don’t need a Savior.
You let the wild winds of the world whistle their threats to destroy me. Temptation sets my soul spinning like a tornado. Sucked into it, my heart is slammed, smashed and shattered.
Sorrow swirls around me bringing with it the gale winds of grief. Whirling and twirling, I’m consumed by its catastrophic cyclone. Confused by the chaos of uncertainty, I’m dizzy and disheartened.
You give sickness the right to swallow me like a titanic storm surge on the mighty sea. Sin is used to shake, quake and break the feeble foundation of my life. Hurricanes of hardship leave me destitute and devastated. Crippled and crying, I desperately need a Savior!
Divine Disrupter, in the midst of vicious whirlwinds, it’s comforting to know that You care for me. In the center of problems and pressure, You are my Savior. Bringing me into the safety of Your presence, You shield me and heal me. Trusting You with my troubled soul, Your supernatural power rests on me. In Your strength I can stand firm through the fiercest storms certain that You are thoughtfully and thoroughly working out Your perfect plan for my life – a plan that will bring glory to Your Wild and Wonderful name. Amen.
Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble.” God’s way is in the whirlwind and the storm. Are the wild winds whistling their threats to destroy you? Are the storm surges swallowing your soul? Trust the powerful promise of God: He cares for you!
His word says all the days of your life were written in His book before even one of them came to be. (Psalm 139:16) He is the Author of your life story. He has a purpose and plan for every event in your life. He is not concerned about your happiness; He cares only about your holiness. Using hardships, He draws you nearer to His own dear heart.
Listen to and reflect on the lyrics of the age-old hymn: Near to the Heart of God
There is a place of quiet rest,
Near to the heart of God.
A place where sin cannot molest,
Near to the heart of God.
O Jesus, blest Redeemer,
Sent from the heart of God,
Hold us who wait before Thee
Near to the heart of God.
There is a place of comfort sweet,
Near to the heart of God.
A place where we our Savior meet,
Near to the heart of God.
There is a place of full release,
Near to the heart of God.
A place where all is joy and peace,
Near to the heart of God.
Friday, August 08, 2008
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name.
B Bless the Lord, O my soul.
All that is within me bless His holy name.
C Come let us adore Him!
Call on His name!
D Declare His glory throughout the whole earth.
Tell the whole world of his wonderful works.
E Enter His gates with thanksgiving.
Extol Him for His excellent greatness!
F Forget not all His benefits.
He faithfully forgives and forgets all our sins.
G Great is the Lord and worthy of praise.
Glory in His holy name.
H Holy! Holy! Holy is the Lord Almighty!
Who was and is and is to come.
I I will sing praise to my great God and King.
I will sing and make music in my heart.
J Joyful, Joyful I adore You,
God of Glory, Lord of Love.
K Know that the Lord is God.
It is He who made us, and we are His.
L Let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
Let the heavens rejoice, let the whole earth be glad;
Let everyone say, “The Lord reigns!”
M Maker of heaven and earth –
Splendor and majesty are before Him,
Strength and glory are in His sanctuary.
N Not to me O Lord, not to me,
But to Your name be the glory because of You love and faithfulness.
O Our God is a God who saves!
O Lord My God, how Great thou art!
P Praise be to the Lord;
To God our Savior who daily bears our burdens.
Q Quickly, I’ll tell the Good News.
My Lord lives and rules and reigns from heaven on high.
R Rejoice in the Lord, you who are righteous.
Remember the wonders He has done.
S Shout for joy to the Lord all the earth!
Shout for joy before the Lord , the King.
T To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb,
Be praise and honor and glory and power forever and ever.
U Unto You I sing, O Lord;
The One who rides across the ancient heavens,
Whose mighty voice thunders from the sky.
God is awesome in His sanctuary.
V Victory is Yours, O Lord.
You have made me glad with the joy of Your presence.
W Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
To receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength,
And glory and honor and praise.
X Exalt the Lord our God and worship at His holy mountain.
Be exalted, O Lord in Your strength;
We will sing and praise Your might.
Y Your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
You are my God and I will give You thanks forever and ever.
Z Zion hears and rejoices!
For You O Lord, are the Most High over all the earth,
You are exalted far above the gods.
A Song of Praise For My King was written by reading the Psalms and making a list from A-Z of various ways the psalmist praised the Lord. It follows the pattern of the psalmist in Psalm 119 where each of 22 sections begins with a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Try writing your own song of praise and adoration. I can guarantee it will put a smile on your face, a song in your heart and a spring in your step!
Thursday, August 07, 2008
Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue ruler said to the people, "There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath."
The Lord answered him, "You hypocrites! Doesn't each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?"
When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.
Then Jesus asked, "What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air perched in its branches."
Kind and Compassionate Healer of Hearts,
So often I miss the wonder and delight in Your marvelous work. Unhappy that someone undesirable has received an unfair advantage, I hurriedly stomp off in a huff. I’d be happier to see an animal untied, than an undeserving human set free. I’d be more contented leading pigs to pond water, than sin-scorched souls to the fountain of forgiveness. I worry more about feeding my Chia Pet protein enriched plant food, than I do about nourishing hungry hearts with eternally rich Bread of Life.
Lord, have mercy on me! I’m no better than the hypocritical religious leaders. When I consider my own lack of compassion, I’m left speechless and ashamed! A person of unclean lips, I’m unworthy of even carrying Your sandals. I need to turn around and look at You.
Please enlarge my heart and bless me with a burden for the hidden treasures of Your heart: the rejects of society. In the garden of my growing heart, plant a tiny, little seed of grace that will gradually develop into a strong limb for disadvantaged people to safely land. Perched on the firm branch of my faith in You, sin-scored souls will drink from the River of Life, Your love, flowing out of me. I’ll generously feed their hungry hearts the Bread of Life, Your Word, coated with irresistible honey from the Rock. Nestled securely on Your life-saving limb, they will heal and become whole. Instead of resenting them, I’ll rejoice when You restore and release them.
Please show me someone deemed unworthy by society and I’ll offer them comfort on my sturdy branch of faith for the benefit of Your beautiful everlasting Kingdom. Amen.
Do you despise people who perpetually receive government handouts? Does it repulse you that your tax dollars pay to incarcerate prisoners? Do you resent when Jesus calls forward the unworthy and unattractive and offers them the same amount of grace He offers you? Do you think you deserve more than them because you have a job or have never been charged with an offense?
Listen to the words of Jesus. He says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” He doesn’t promise the kingdom of heaven to the rich and well-kept, but to the needy.
Admit your own hypocritical tendencies. Then, ask the Holy Spirit to enlarge your heart and bless you with a burden for the hidden treasures of His heart. Ask Him to give you the awareness of Christ to notice the undesirables; the compassion to speak to them and for them, and the power to heal them. Then look for an opportunity to let someone land and lodge on the life-saving limb of Your faith in Jesus Christ.
Is your faith strong enough to sustain their heavy load?
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: "The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me." For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
God of Hope,
Your Words are more brilliant than diamonds. Thank You for preserving Ancient History to teach me. In the classroom of my heart I gain knowledge, wisdom and discernment. I develop insight to help me differentiate between right and wrong. Reading and studying Your Great History book, is the wisest thing I could ever do. It prepares me for the biggest test of my life – loving and accepting others.
Fully aware of the facts, I’ll know that my selfish pride and prejudice leads to dissension, disagreement, and disconnect. Following Your perfect example, I’ll offer my body as broken bread. Just as You gave up Your rights to glory and power, I’ll give up my rights to recognition and rewards. Because You left Your lofty, holy and pure position in heaven and came to earth to bear my sin and shame, I’ll leave my hoity-toity pedestal of prominence to bear with the faults and failures of others. Since You graciously removed the barrier of sin that separates me from You, I’ll voluntarily take down the walls of intolerance that divide me from others. United, we’ll glorify You with one heart and one mouth by accepting one another.
Familiarity with the past will help me better understand the future. Primed with faith, I’ll have endurance, encouragement, and confidence to keep an optimistic outlook of loving unity throughout each day. As I diligently read and study my Bible, Your Ancient History book, please fill me with joy and peace. I trust that the Hope of Heaven will spill from my heart by the power of the Spirit that is within me. May my attitudes and actions bring praise to our glorious family name forever and ever! Amen.
The lessons we learn from God’s Word are tremendous! If we seriously take the time to study and practice our lessons, we’ll fulfill our call to be holy. We’ll be people of peace and joy. A delight to be around!
What lesson is God teaching you in the classroom of your heart? Are you practicing it? Are you ready for the biggest test of your life – to love and accept others unconditionally?
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
The law itself is holy and right and good.
But how can that be? Did the law, which is good, cause my doom? Of course not! Sin used what was good to bring about my condemnation. So we can see how terrible sin really is. It uses God's good commandment for its own evil purposes.
Honorable Ruler of Heaven & Earth~
I tremble in fear of Your Highness. Standing in awe of Your holy, right and good law, I praise You with an upright heart. Your spoken Word is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold. It’s pure joy to my heart, mind and soul, guaranteeing my rich heritage forever.
Completely righteous, fully trustworthy, and thoroughly tested, Your rules awaken my conscience, warning me of dangers. Satan has set a snare for me. Don’t let me be lured by his lies, choked by his charm, or suffocated by sin. He wants to use Your wise Words for his wicked ways.
O Lord, hide Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You. Teach me knowledge and good judgment. Let me understand so that I can obey with all my heart. I don’t want sin to rule over me.
When I’m confused, Your law counsels me. When I’m in a sinking ship in the sea of sin, it’s the life preserver that saves me. When I’m consumed with sorrow and sadness, it comforts me. When I’m weak and weary, it strengthens me. Blinded by the shadow of darkness, Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
I’ll delight in Your laws, meditate on them daily, and try to never neglect them. Use them O Lord, to preserve my life, according to Your love through Jesus I pray. Amen.
God’s laws aren’t meant to restrict us, but protect us. Be thankful for their convicting power because it saves your life!
To grasp the goodness, righteousness and holiness of God’s Word, I encourage you to read the longest chapter in the Bible, Psalm 119. Highlight all the ways God’s laws benefit you.
Monday, August 04, 2008
Jesus said, “But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.”
Your Spirit is my wise and wonderful Counselor sent from the heart of God. While living in our land, You left an enormous legacy for ordinary, uneducated people like me. Your well-preserved Ancient Words recorded by a beloved disciple two thousand years ago, point me to the power of Your Spirit.
When Your Words descended on the open pit of heart like a tongue of fire, they arrested and convinced me that I was heading toward eternal destruction on the highway to Hell. Guilty of violating every one of Your holy standards for living, they fully persuaded me to turn around and peruse a radically different lifestyle.
Certain that You have gone to the Father in Heaven and are watching every move I make, I want to respectfully respond to all kinds of people and consistently make right choices that will result in rich everlasting rewards. As I spend time with You in Bible Study and prayer, clothe me with Your sweet spirit of compassion. Advise me in my daily decisions so that my actions will always be kind and courageous, and my attitudes will always be positive and encouraging, proving that the ruler of godless living, Satan himself, has been rightly judged, convicted and condemned. .
With Your help, I will quietly leave a legacy of love that points others to the life changing power of Your Spirit, and honors Your time-tested wise and wonderful advice. All glory to my Counselor, Comforter, Helper and Friend. Amen.
Jesus left the legacy of His Sweet Spirit for you. What legacy will you leave for others: one of love or one of nagging condemnation?
We’ll never persuade people to stop pursuing worldly pleasures with long-winded arguments. We’ll never convince people that they’re going down a dangerous road to death and destruction. Heeding the wise and wonderful advice of God’s Spirit is the only way to change the world. Following Him, our attitudes and actions will speak louder than words.
Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with more of His power and love. Full of His goodness, you will be known for your pure heart and honest motives, proving that the ruler of this godless world has been judged, tried, and convicted.
Friday, August 01, 2008
How long will you defend the unjust
and show partiality to the wicked?
Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless;
maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.
Rescue the weak and needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
"They know nothing, they understand nothing.
They walk about in darkness;
all the foundations of the earth are shaken.”
"I said, 'You are "gods";
you are all sons of the Most High.'
But you will die like mere men;
you will fall like every other ruler."
O Great God who governs from beyond the galaxies,
You are the Mighty Magistrate righteously ruling and reigning over all the earth. From Your high and holy throne in heaven, You pronounce explicit orders for maintaining justice and peace. Without ever blinking an eye, Your global gaze is inescapable.
Obviously my poor performance hasn’t gone unnoticed or You wouldn’t ask, “How long will you defend the unjust and show partiality to the wicked?” You know that I’m inclined to show favoritism to influential individuals who can increase my position. You’ve watched me inaccurately interpret Your Word to intentionally impress prominent people. You’ve seen me inappropriately intimidate the inferior to prevent them from being promoted. As a representative in the courts of heaven I’m utterly ignorant and ineffective! I can’t begin to understand holy justice!
I admit that I’ve taken advantage of my deputy duties and made poor decisions. Humbly, I come to Your most high bench, pleading with You to instruct me. Beneath the Cross of Jesus, teach me holy justice. Under Your gracious authority, I’ll practice integrity, defending the powerless and making sure the underprivileged get a fair deal. With Your help, I’ll boldly stand up and speak out for the innocent, publicly indicting those who abuse them. Under Your Wise Counsel, I won’t tolerate social injustice.
One day, possibly soon, each of us - rich and poor, strong and frail, wise and foolish - will drop down dead and appear before Your throne equally naked and empty-handed. The only riches we’ll retain from our lives here on earth are those we’ve invested in the treasures of heaven: society’s rejects. For that reason, I’m committing my time and talent to practicing holy justice for the honor of Your everlasting kingdom. Amen.
It’s so much easier to defend the way of the world than it is to fight for the Kingdom of God. God has asked you a profound question, “How long will you defend the unjust and show partiality to the wicked?” What is your response?
Loving undesirables isn’t a natural tendency. The only way to cultivate a heart for the hidden treasures of God is to ask the Holy Spirit to grow it in you. Read the Gospels specifically looking for those whom Jesus defended. At the top of a blank piece of paper make three columns. Label the columns: Good, Bad and Ugly. As you read, place the people Jesus defended in the appropriate column. It may surprise you.
May the Lord richly reward you as you seek to save the His treasures.