Saturday, August 17, 2019

Our Ever-Present Help ...

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble." - Psalm 46:1 
I left the house the other day without my cell phone. I immediately returned to retrieve the little "necessity". Most of us have grown attached to these little guys for a variety of reasons. We feel like the officers on Star Trek, who were always in touch with the Starship through their communicators. When we have our trusty cell phone by our side, we know that help is always near.
While we are centuries away from the writing of this Psalm, we are still in need of a refuge, strength and help in trouble. The modern development of cell phones may be a great comfort when traveling, but it will never compare to the presence of God. He is far more than a resource who provides or delegates, HE is our refuge, strength and help himself. When we walk with the Lord, we know that help is always near.
Are you feeling alone today? Are there overwhelming fears that fill your heart? Do you feel like your communicator is out of range with no signal bars on the screen? Then I recommend that you "Be still and know that He is God" and gain a fresh sense that "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble."

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Friday, August 16, 2019

Heroes ...

"Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the LORD delivers him in times of trouble. The LORD will protect him and preserve his life; he will bless him in the land and not surrender him to the desire of his foes." - Psalm 41: 1-2
As children, we read the stories of heroes; those who came to the rescue of the downtrodden and abused. They would arrive just in time to deliver from the most terrible treatment and become the heroes of the day. TV programs followed suit for some years with weekly adventures of individuals who could be contacted when no one else would help. While we love to read about heroes, is it possible that we could be someone's hero someday?
David wrote about heroes when he said, "Blessed is he who has regard for the weak". Even the Lord is interested in those who, in his name, will reach out to help those in need. Jesus put it in these words, "Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy" (Matthew 5:7) Yes, if you are willing to hear and follow the Lord's call, you too can be a hero.
Has the Lord put someone in your circle of life that is weak and in need? Is there some little way that you can show them mercy and kindness? God honors those who have regard for the weak. Mercy is a key that often opens the door of the soul to the gospel. Be someone's hero today.

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Thursday, August 15, 2019

Discipline ...

"O LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath. For your arrows have pierced me, and your hand has come down upon me. Because of your wrath there is no health in my body; my bones have no soundness because of my sin. My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear... O LORD, do not forsake me; be not far from me, O my God. Come quickly to help me, O Lord my Savior." - Psalm 38:1-4, 21-22 
Discipline is always difficult. Whether we are corrected by our parents, school teachers or the local authorities, the process is still painful at best. The ideal hope is for a learning process that will lead to the correction of bad behavior. Discipline should ultimately be a help that will deliver us.
David knew that he was suffering from the corrective hand of God. He had lost health and soundness due to his sin. He was a Godly man, not just because he most often lived for God, but because he also acknowledged his sin whenever he failed God. David was overwhelmed with his guilt and sought the Lord for help and deliverance. 
Are you willing to acknowledge your sin when God comes knocking at your door? When suffering comes your way is it possible that the Lord is working to purge you of habits that will destroy you? Why continue day by day with guilt that weighs you down? The Lord will never forsake you, so cry out to him in repentance and ask that he comes quickly to help you with his grace and deliverance.

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Wednesday, August 14, 2019

The "one two punch"...

"I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. This poor man called, and the LORD heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles." - Psalm 34:4-6
The "one two punch" is defined as a combination of two blows delivered in rapid succession in boxing, especially a left lead followed by a right cross. When troubles come our way, we often face a "one two punch" from the outer circumstances and the fears within. We need to seek the Lord who delivers us from fear and saves us from troubles by his "one two punch".
David was in a serious mess as he faced a formidable enemy with nowhere to turn. He saw his life slipping away ever so quickly, so he sought the Lord. He asked for deliverance from his fears and to be saved from his troubles. David knew how overwhelming his fears were and how quickly they would sap him of strength, so this was his first request. Once free of his fears he prayed with great confidence to be saved from his troubles. God answered David's prayers with his "one two punch".
Never ignore the fears that haunt you my friend. Troubles come your way and fears follow close behind. Because fears will cripple and discourage you to the point of giving up, seek the Lord for his deliverance. Then bring your situation to his throne of grace to be saved from your troubles. Never be discouraged by the fears and troubles of life, just look to the Lord for his "one two punch".

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Our hiding place...

"Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him. You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah" - Psalm 32:6-7 
We had a pretty wet spring this year. On some days the rain came down in torrents. Nearby communities were flooded over and over again. We have lived in three places over the years where flooding has taken homes and lives. Every time such storms come, anxiety runs high. When the mighty waters rise, we need a hiding place.
Early in this psalm David reflects on a forgiven life that is restored to fellowship with God. He builds up to the comforting result of finding security in God's unfailing love. There is no storm or trouble that will overcome the child of God when they rest in him. When the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him. He will always be protected because the Lord is his hiding place.
Where is your protection from the floods today? Will the troubles of life take your song away? Pray, while the Lord may be found and see that he will protect you and surround you with songs of deliverance. When the waters rise, find rest in the One who is your hiding place.

Monday, August 12, 2019

The Lord "IS" ...

"The LORD is my shepherd..." - Psalm 23:1
As a pastor I have performed funerals beyond number. Whether the loved one was a devout believer or rarely attended church, this passage is the reading of choice. In the hours of death, these words are of great comfort for those who grieve. But, the ultimate question concerning the departed is; was the LORD their Shepherd in life?
David expressed his life relationship with the LORD as his Shepherd. The entire psalm takes one through a daily faith walk. It all begins with the present tense of "is". The Lord "is" to be the Shepherd we follow in life, if he "will" be the Shepherd who receives us in eternity. Everyone wants a Shepherd in death, but is he their Shepherd in life?
Will you need the shepherd care of the Lord sometime in the future? Will you request this wonderful Psalm to be read during your last hours of life? Every comfort for your tomorrows begin with the "is" of today. The Lord will be your Shepherd in death, only if he "is" your Shepherd in life. 

Sunday, August 11, 2019

The LORD is Still on His Throne!

""When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD is on his heavenly throne. He observes the sons of men; his eyes examine them." - Psalm 11:3-4

When I attended college, I lived in a college owned apartment for a year. It was very old and scheduled to be demolished. When you stood across the street, you could see the two ends of the building sag down like the leaning tower of Pisa. Yet, we never lived in fear because we were assured that the building was safe. The foundation was weak, but the word of the college was sure.
David knew that although the foundations in life may be destroyed, the LORD is on his throne. The enemies may be many, but the LORD watches over the righteous. He sits on his throne observing our every step, ready to redeem and strong to save. Life may shift and sag like a leaning tower, but the throne of God remains sure and secure.
Are your foundations cracking and shifting beneath you? Do you feel unsettled in the constant changes of life? Then turn to the throne in heaven and be encouraged with this invitation...  "Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." (Hebrews 4:16) Your foundations may be weak, but the foundations of heaven are strong.

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Saturday, August 10, 2019

The Perfect Duet ...

"May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer." - Psalm 19:14
What makes a beautiful song? Every song is made up of both words and music. Some songs have very thought provoking words, but a lifeless tune. Other songs have a haunting melody, but the words are empty in meaning. The song that has timeless quality is one that has just the right combination of words and music... the perfect duet.
David was a man of insightful words, as well as a gifted musician. He understood the importance of both qualities being in tune with each other. He also realized that his words and the meditations of his heart needed to complement each other to be pleasing the sight of the Lord. Just like a good song, the life that has the right combination of words and heart is... the perfect duet.
How is your life-song today?  Do your carefully chosen words come from a well guarded heart? Do the meditations of your heart fully compliment the words that you speak? When the Lord looks upon your life is he pleased with the words of your mouth and music of your heart? Does he see... the perfect duet?


"We cannot measure spiritual force by rules of philosophy or definitions of 
theology any more than by a carpenter's rule or chemist's scales.  It is "with the heart man believeth unto righteousness."  And yet, the character of a man's thoughts has much to do with success or failure in the spiritual life. He is influenced by what he thinks."

 -- T. Henry Howard in Fuel for Sacred Flame

Friday, August 9, 2019

Don't rust out...

"LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman, who despises a vile man but honors those who fear the LORD, who keeps his oath even when it hurts, who lends his money without usury and does not accept a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things will never be shaken." - Psalm 15
Our first car was a 1979 Dodge Aspen, with a 3.7 L slant six engine. That car ran like a top for over 100,000 miles because the engine was unbeatable. There was one problem; the body of the car rusted out underneath us. The quality of the engine was outstanding, but the quality of the body was substandard. It was all about integrity; the engine had it, but the body didn't.
The spiritual life is like a car... it's built to travel, not to sit in the garage. When the Lord saves us and seals us with the Holy Spirit, our future is secure, but our journey is just beginning. We enjoy transformed hearts that possess and are driven by a Holy God. Psalm 15 is a guide book that will help produce a body of equal quality. It's all about integrity; when the heart has it, so can the body.
How do you begin each day? Do you have a plan of action that will keep your body from rusting out from underneath the Spirit led heart? This Psalm provides a number of areas to evaluate on a daily basis. The promise is simple... "He who does these things will never be shaken". Be a person of integrity, both heart and body. 

Thursday, August 8, 2019


"The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you." - Psalm 9:9-10

In 1904, the play Peter Pan debuted and in 1911 the children's book Peter and Wendy was published. The stories tell of a girl named Wendy and her brothers flying off with Peter Pan to a land of fun and adventure. Author J. M. Barrie wrote of a fictional island named "Neverland" where children could fly away from the harsh realities of  life. Such stories pique the imagination in a world of constant change and abounding troubles. Could there ever be a real place to fly called Neverland?
David often wrote about troubles, dangers and injustice. His life was filled with oppression as he cried out, "O LORD, see how my enemies persecute me! Have mercy and lift me up from the gates of death" (vs. 13) Still, David always had reason to hope in the darkest time because he found refuge in the Lord. He learned that the Lord NEVER forsakes those who seek him. The Lord said it in Deuteronomy 31:6 and again in Hebrews 13:5... “NEVER will I leave you; NEVER will I forsake you.” David found a real place to fly called Neverland.
Do you feel trapped in a world of stress, pressure and unending difficulties? Where do you go to find relief? Have you found someone who will always be there for you, whatever the circumstances? If not, let me take your hand and we'll fly away to "a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble." We'll fly away to the Lord, who NEVER forsakes those who seek him, because he said he will NEVER leave you, he will NEVER forsake you. Yes my friend, there really is place called Neverland.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Need Help?

"O LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath. Be merciful to me, LORD, for I am faint; O LORD, heal me, for my bones are in agony. My soul is in anguish. How long, O LORD, how long? Turn, O LORD, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love." - Psalm 6:1-4

Why do we answer the question "How are you" with a perpetual "I'm fine"? Especially when we're not "fine"? Maybe because we don't like complainers, so we don't complain. Or maybe because we don't think other people really want to know how we really are. Then again, we may just be working on the blue ribbon for martyrdom with the determination of... "I can make it on my own".
Transparency may not be the best approach with some people in your life, but it's definitely the best in your relationship with God. What made David a man after God's own heart? One reason is found in the fact that he was an open book in his prayer life. He never held back his fears, pains, weakness or anguish. He even brought his complaints to the Lord with an honest confession... "I can't make it on my own."
Even though the Lord already knows how you are, he still wants you to tell him all about it. He looks for us to be wide open about our needs and feelings. He wants us to lean on him for the healing, strength and courage for every moment of the day. Will you choose to be a "Macho, Macho Man" (or woman) today? Or will you be honest with yourself and the Lord by asking for help with that really hard confession... "I can't make it on my own" 

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Tuesday, August 6, 2019

The Antidote...

"Then Job answered the Lord and said: “Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth. I have spoken once, and I will not answer; twice, but I will proceed no further.” - Job 40:3-5
I once knew a young man that had all the answers in life. Unfortunately for him, no one seemed to agree with him. Wherever he was hired, he would become accutely aware that he had far better ideas for the business to succeed than the management. Again, to his loss, his employers would disagree and send him on his way. To this very day, he struggles with such debilitating arrogance, in great need of an antidote.
Job started out on the road of suffering, humble and broken. But, as time passed a strange condition began to take over. In his deep grief and despondency he experienced a sense of self righteousness. First, he saw himself as superior to his friends in wisdom and compassion. Then, his condition worsened, until he found himself questioning God. Finally, when he was placed alongside the Almighty, he awakened to see that he was "of small account". The antidote was found!
The story is timeless my friend. Pride is one of, if not, the greatest of all sins. It grows in us like a cancer. Our world nurtures it by reminding us that we "deserve a break today". We're led down the dangerous path of self worth until "it's all about me". Satan's temptation in the garden centered on this one angle - "you will be like God" (Genesis 3:5) Thankfully, there is an antidote for such a debilitating arrogance... When we awaken to see that God alone is God, and we are "of small account". 

Monday, August 5, 2019

A piece of your mind?

"Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me." ~ Job 38:1-3
How many times have you heard it said... "When I get to court, I'm going to give the judge a piece of my mind!" There are many people who, when they get traffic tickets, parking tickets or some other kind of fine look forward to appear in court. They are absolutely confident of their innocence, or that the law simply doesn't apply to them. Then they stand before the judge and all their arguments melt into the floor. And so goes the "piece of their mind" .
Job had been talking about such a moment as the one above, for quite some time. Now he would have the opportunity to give the Lord a piece of his mind. He was absolutely convinced that God was unfair and didn't understand the situation. He was ready to defend himself and call the heavenly tribunal into question. But, as the encounter began and continued, all those hopes and plans melted into the floor. And so went the "piece of Job's mind" . 
The best counsel for those who look forward to giving God Almighty a piece of their mind is... Don't. First, take the time to read and reread these latter chapters of God's speech to Job and reflect on who God is. The Lord has reminded us in Isaiah 55:9 of this truth ... "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." God knows what He's doing and everything that He does is "very good" (Genesis 1:31). The Truth of who God is will always melt the "piece of your mind".

Sunday, August 4, 2019

As gold ...

“Behold, I go forward, but he is not there, and backward, but I do not perceive him; on the left hand when he is working, I do not behold him; he turns to the right hand, but I do not see him. But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold." ~ Job 23:8-10
Have you ever watched a sail boat move through the channels on an afternoon when there was a light summer breeze? You could see it tack one way and then another. The power that moved the little vessel through the water was unseen and undetected by you. But, none the less, the boat would eventually dock, gently and safely. Life is very much like that sailing craft. There's a hidden presence that moves us along our way. We may resist to our peril, but when we yield, we come out as gold.
In spite of the rough waters and treacherous winds, Job knew who was ever present, guiding his every step. He had started the journey with a solid devotion and had followed the Lord faithfully. Though, on most days, it seemed as if God's presence was nowhere to be found. But, Job knew, that while he couldn't see the Lord, the Lord saw him and knew every step he took. Then, when all was said and done... he would come out as gold.
Many generations later, King David wrote ... "O LORD, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways." (Psalm 139:1-3) Have no fear my friend, the Lord knows your every step. He is leading the way like a good shepherd does. You only need to follow, and you will come out as gold.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

A Good, Good Father ...

“Therefore, hear me, you men of understanding: far be it from God that he should do wickedness, and from the Almighty that he should do wrong." ~ Job 34:10
I grew up with a great father. He wasn't perfect, but I knew that he loved me with all his heart. He didn't have a lot of the world's wealth to offer me, but he always gave what he could. I never questioned his care or desire for my best. When he needed to correct me, I had no doubt that it was for my good. So, to this day I understand and am thankful for having had a good, good father.
I'm pretty sure that Elihu had such thoughts in mind when he spoke the above words about the Almighty. Job had said, "It profits a man nothing that he should take delight in God." To these words Elihu called him to remembrance that the Almighty would never do wrong. However dark the valleys or wild the storms that God lead Job through, He always cared and wanted Job's best. Because the Almighty was and always will be ... a good, good Father.
How about it my friend? Has the Lord been leading you through some serious situations lately? Have you prayed for it all to stop? Did you wonder if the Lord really cared at all? Is it possible that you thought that the Lord had it out for you? Maybe you failed too often and He'd given up on you? Well, listen to the words of Elihu today... "far be it be from God that he should do wickedness...that he should do wrong". He loves you with all his heart and desires the very best for you, because He's your ... good, good Father.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Knock, Knock ...

"Why do you contend against him, saying, ‘He will answer none of man’s words’? For God speaks in one way, and in two, though man does not perceive it... “Behold, God does all these things, twice, three times, with a man, to bring back his soul from the pit, that he may be lighted with the light of life." ~ Job 33:13-14; 29-30
I'm sure that you've heard the story of a man stranded on the roof top during a flood. He prayed with great fervor for deliverance. As time passed a rescue boat came by, a helicopter lowered a rope, and tow line was floated from shore. All of these offers were rejected, because the man was waiting for God to answer. Eventually the man drowned and came before the Lord and he asked why God hadn't saved him. The Lord then informed him that a boat, helicopter and tow rope had been sent. The Lord comes knocking at our door many times in many ways, but all too often, we just don't get it.
The words of Elihu were quite insightful. He called attention to Job's belief that the Lord wouldn't answer his pleas. Job was under the persuasion that God had forgotten him or abandoned him to his plight. But Elihu reminded him that "God is greater than man" and speaks in many different ways to draw men to Himself. The Lord sees men in their sinful condition, taking missteps every day that would take them further into the darkness. So, He comes knocking at their door... "twice, three times, with a man, to bring back his soul from the pit". But, as in Job's case, all too often, they just don't get it.
Are you on the roof top today my friend? Have you prayed for deliverance, but it seems that God hasn't answered? Stop for a moment and revisit the last few days or weeks. Were there subtle words or passing moments that seemed unusual? Did you just brush them aside because they didn't fit "your" grid of expected answers? Could it be that the Lord has been knocking at your door, "twice, three times ... to bring back your soul from the pit"? Pay attention! And don't be like those who just don't get it.


Thursday, August 1, 2019

A time to restore ...

“And now I have become their song; I am a byword to them. They abhor me; they keep aloof from me; they do not hesitate to spit at the sight of me. Because God has loosed my cord and humbled me, they have cast off restraint in my presence." ~ Job 30:9-11
From our earliest days we find a certain pleasure in reporting the poor behavior of others. As we grow older we move on to gossiping about those who have failed. Even after we embrace a Biblical faith and know better, we find ways to pass on stories of downfalls, under the guise of "praying about it". What is the reason for our interest in reveling over other people's stumbling? The common belief is, that by calling attention to the faults of others, we look better. But, do we?
Job is about to finish his grievances toward the Lord and his friends. At this point he points to the fact that his friends have found pleasure in his troubles... As he says, "I have become their song". If we read closely, these men served up a "holier than thou" counsel over and over again. They painted him as the worst of worst, and themselves as those who had all the answers. One may wonder how often they talked about Job behind his back. After all, he had become a byword to many, and he was abhorred. They all thought that they were better than him, but were they?
It has been said that the Church is the only army that shoots it's own soldiers. Every year there is a list of fallen church leaders... well known and not so well known. I watch as these servants of God are picked apart in Christian periodicals and church discussion groups. I grieve over the quickness of condemnation without any thought or effort to restore the fallen soldier. After they have fallen, we seem to revel in putting another bullet in the body. The church needs healing like never before, and just calling attention to the sins of others will never make us look better.