Monday, December 17, 2012

Why Jesus Really Came

Today’s Scripture: John 3: 16-17

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.”    
Words of Devotion

I want you to try and picture those moments in heaven just before God the Son left His throne of majesty and came to earth as a baby. Think about it: The angels in heaven understood the life that lay before Him. The Father was putting Him on a path that would lead to humiliation and death. And Christ Himself knew the pain He would endure on the cross. It must have been so hard.

So what made Him go? It was love. God loved the people of this planet, and knew Jesus was the only way we could be saved from the consequences of our sin. And our planet – a little speck in the great universe – was loved so much that God became a man. We didn't deserve Him, but we got Him.

It’s been well said, “God doesn't love us because we’re valuable; we’re valuable because He loves us.” No truer words have been spoken. Jesus didn't come into the world because He found us attractive. No, He came into the world so that we might become holy and blameless in the eyes of God.

Our Lord experienced so much hardship by coming into the world. But He knew it was worth it, to rescue us from the dominion of darkness and bring us into His Kingdom!


Monday, December 10, 2012


Today’s Scripture: Luke 2:11

“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”

Words of Devotion

Some people think that “Christ” is Jesus’ last name. Jesus Christ, like Joe Johnson or Audrey Smith. If you have thought that, don’t feel bad. It is just evidence that over the centuries our understanding of Jesus as the Christ has become so solid in our thinking that we don’t think of “Jesus” without “Christ.”

Jesus is His name, Christ is His title. Among all the titles He bears, Son of God, Son of Man, Good Shepherd, Alpha and Omega, it all begins in the gospel story with this one incredible announcement: “He is Christ the Lord.” “Christos” in Greek, and thus, “Christ” in English; “Messiah” in Hebrew, which means “Anointed One.”

But what is the meaning of “Anointed One”?

In the Old Testament, three kinds of people were anointed: kings, priests, and prophets. So when we hear “Christ,” we should think of Jesus in each of those three roles.

He is a king, ruling in people’s lives not just because they are in His realm but also because He is in their hearts.

He is a priest, one who stands between God and humanity—One who sacrifices; One who intercedes, the mediator, the bridge.

 He is a Prophet, Prophets had brought the words of God to the people, but the Messiah is the Word of God to the people.

In those days, when the heavy hand of Caesar Augustus dominated the Holy Land, people were looking for the Anointed One to come. 

They were hoping for a large army, not a multitude of the heavenly host. They anticipated a bigger and better David, not the obscure rabbi who always seemed like an outsider when He visited Jerusalem. They probably expected an orator, but did not expect the speeches of this Messiah to leave people speechless.

The very best things God does in our lives usually come as a surprise to us. So wouldn't it be surprising if we, who think we know so much about Jesus, would be startled to see Him in a whole new way.

Today, we picture Him in a nativity set or as the subject of Praise in hymns. We picture Him in art, in stories. We experience Him while reading the Bible, or while listening to a Sunday sermon. But we often fail to picture Him as the living, breathing manifestation of God on earth. This, the angel said, was “good news of great joy.” What could be better than God existing in the midst of our lives?

Prayer for Today: Christ, you are the King above all other kings, the High Priest who has made the ultimate sacrifice, the Prophet who has had the last word. Let me be astonished this Christmas by knowing more fully than ever before, that you really have come and have changed this world, and are here still. Amen

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Answer Is Jesus

Today’s Passage: Romans 7:24-25

 “Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Words of Devotion

We might think of Paul as being perfect. A man of unimaginable spiritual maturity who had conquered every temptation and always walked in the Spirit. Yet, even Paul admitted that he struggled.

Calling himself "miserable," Paul concluded that he was "rotten through and through so far as my old sinful nature is concerned." He confessed that, "No matter which way I turn, I can't make myself do right...When I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway."

Even though he loved God's law, he still felt the influence of sin. He felt that he was a slave to sin and that "there is another power within me that is at war with my mind" (v. 23).

Paul shared these details because he wanted his readers to understand that these problems were universal. Sin could cause Believers to become discouraged and feel condemned, unworthy, and hopeless.

Paul learned that he could not achieve victory by trusting in his own ability. Rather, he needed to trust in Jesus, who gave him the power and ability he needed, enabling him to overcome the grip of sin.

All of us can feel trapped by our actions or words, by sin, habits, or circumstances. We may be tempted by carnal thoughts, preoccupied by our jobs, or anxious about the future. In spite of our efforts, we may be plagued by burdens or guilt.

In all of these situations, Paul found help: "The answer is in Jesus Christ." We cannot overcome on our own, but with His strength and power we can achieve victory.

Today: In whatever situations you face, talk with Jesus about your problems. Surrender your life to Him, and allow Him to give you victory. Jesus is the answer!

Today's Prayer:  Dear Lord Jesus, these are areas in which I need help:_________. I depend on You for the answer. Thank You for giving me victory! In Your name Amen

Monday, November 19, 2012

Freedom from Guilt

Today’s Passage: Romans 4:24-25

 “God Who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, Who was betrayed and put to death because of our misdeeds and was raised to secure our justification—our acquittal, making our account balance and absolving us from all guilt before God.”

Words of Devotion

The business leader had been caught and arrested. He was guilty of misusing millions of dollars in customer funds. As details emerged, the man attempted to take his own life, but his efforts failed. The note he had written revealed poignant insights into the life he had been living.

He was not the model citizen he had pretended to be, but had been misusing funds for nearly 20 years. In his note, he confessed, "I am ready to die. I guess this is the only way out of a business I hate so much."

In particular, he was bothered to have deceived his son. He never wanted him "to know the kind of guy I really was...your mistake was that you trusted your father."

These words reveal just how deeply we can be weighed down by sin. It was this same burden that weighed down Adam and Eve after they had sinned, causing them to hide from God's presence. Guilt can haunt our minds and hearts. Even Christians can have a hard time overcoming guilt.

Paul wrote that, without Jesus, we are all sinners who are guilty in God's sight. But Jesus was raised from the dead to "secure our justification." He provided "our acquittal." He made "our account balance, absolving us from all guilt before God." As the Bible tells us… "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).

Today, are you carrying any burdens, any guilt? Confess your sins to God. Then accept His forgiveness and Jesus' finished work. He died and rose again so that you could be free!

Today's Prayer: Father, thank You that Jesus death and resurrection has absolved me from all guilt in Your sight. Thank You for removing my sins and setting me free. In Jesus' name Amen

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Good Minister

Today’s Scripture: 1 Timothy 4:6-10

If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, brought up in the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. (Vs 6)

 Words of Devotion

It is necessary that we clearly understand the phrase Paul uses about Timothy. When he calls him a good minister of Christ Jesus, he is not thinking of him as a member of the clergy, like we would think of the pastor of a church standing up in front of a congregation. The word that is used here is actually the word deacon rather than minister--a good deacon of Jesus Christ. Even then the word is not referring to Timothy as an officer of the church; rather, it is the word that is commonly translated many places in Scripture as a servant. That is what a deacon is--one who serves. Here Paul is using the word in the widest sense possible--a good servant of Jesus Christ. Of course, in that sense servant includes everyone. All of us are called to be servants of the Lord Jesus.

In order to be a good servant of Jesus Christ, the apostle says you need certain things; and the first admonition Paul gives Timothy is, Watch what you are feeding on! Be nourished on the words of the faith and the good doctrine that you have followed.

What are you nourished by? That is the question this passage raises before us. What do you feed on daily? What do you put in your mind? What is your habitual input in your life? The sports pages, perhaps soap operas, the Dow Jones Averages, TV, the movies, best-seller novels? If any of those things are your daily diet, then I can guarantee you will be a spiritually undernourished servant of Jesus Christ, because the apostle makes clear that what you feed on is what is going to determine how effective you become.

I do not want anyone to eliminate any of those things as though they are wrong. Not one of them is wrong in itself. We are not to eliminate them, but we are to regulate them. That is the point Paul makes. Regulate them as things that can be very dangerously distracting to us and often too easily controlling of our thoughts.

The apostle urges Timothy to give himself instead to what really feeds his spiritual life. What do you essentially need? Paul tells us: the truths of the faith and of the good teaching [doctrine]. Do not be afraid of the word doctrine; it means teaching--the teaching of the truth, the reality of life. That is what Christians need.

Notice how Paul combines two important elements: knowledge and decision. He says you need the good, sound words of the faith and good, sound teaching, and you are to follow them. First you learn, and then you do what it says. That is the formula for a good servant of Jesus Christ--giving yourself to nourishing yourself on the Word of God, feeding upon these things and then following them.

Today, we gravitate to titles that seem to elevate our importance or prestige. Are we learning the true dignity of fulfilling our call to have a servant's heart, whatever our role?

Prayer: Lord, teach me to be a person of faith today; give me a faith that acts, a faith that rises up and obeys what You tell me to do. Amen

Monday, November 5, 2012

Chief of Sinners

Today’s Bible Reading: 1Timothy 1:12-17

“This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.”(V 15)

Words of Devotion

That sounds simple to us, yet it is very profound. All of us were mixed up, confused, bewildered, darkened in our understanding, and alienated from the life of God. Read Paul's descriptions in Ephesians about what we were like before we came to Christ. Everybody--those with brilliant minds, highly educated people--everybody is in the same boat. Christ Jesus came to take away the darkness, unveil the mysteries, remove the illusions, reveal reality, and awaken love, compassion, mercy, and ministry to others. This is the purpose of Christianity.

Then Paul says the most astonishing thing of all in this passage: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. If he had said, I was the chief; we would all understand that, because certainly he was in the forefront of the ranks. But now, looking back as he comes near to the end of his life, he says, I am the chief of sinners.

That causes many people a lot of trouble. They read those words and say, has he forgotten the words he wrote in Galatians 2:20, 'I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God'? Has he forgotten what he said in 2 Corinthians 5:17: 'If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!'? Surely he can't forget that he has been redeemed; he has been made righteous. He cannot call himself the chief of sinners. But he does.

Some say that this is a kind of humble exaggeration, like we sometimes say; I'm not all that good, really. I do not think it is false humility. Paul means every word of this. He has not forgotten what he has written. What he is thinking of is not what he is in Christ (because in Him he was made righteous and delivered, the power of sin was broken), but he is thinking about himself as a total man living in a world of evil; he is thinking of himself as we have to think of ourselves, made whole in Christ and yet with the flesh still active in our lives. We still struggle against it. It is no longer us but an alien invader still able to exercise its deceiving power over us.

There is hidden here a very important principle that all of us will have to learn sometime or other. Whatever the flesh once manifested itself to be in our lives--some extreme form of evil, whatever we have done that is now, in our own sight, bad, ugly, and something we are ashamed of--we have to remember that that is an area of weakness that needs to be guarded very carefully, because we can return to that in an instant, no matter how long we have been Christians. That is what Paul is talking about.

Today: We must realize that the enemy is out to destroy us and he is in us! The wonder is that Christ died for His enemies. Confession makes us eligible for His redeeming grace and forgiveness.

Prayer: Father, once I was blind; I could not see myself for what I was. Yet I thank you that you came and invaded my life and began to take away the veil and to help me to see what I was like. Amen

Monday, October 29, 2012

For Such a Time as This

Greetings faithful readers … At this time I would like to share with you about some upcoming changes in the amount of devotional posting. The normal routine is 5 devotions a week. And I normally prepare at least three weeks of devotions ahead.

However in the last few weeks my vision has become very blurry and it is becoming harder and harder to see in order to write and to read for studying the Bible and other material. This blurry vision also is causing severe headaches. Currently I am just about one week ahead.

The reason for my blurry vision is due to my severe nerve damage in my lower back, and a pinched nerve in my neck. Both are incurable by man.
So from now on I will be posting only one devotional on Monday’s.

I am so sorry about making these changes, but I am sure you will understand. I do ask for your prayers. 
Thanks again for your faithful reading and your understanding.

May today’s devotional be a blessing…. “For Such a Time as This”

In Christ
Pastor Don

Today’s Scripture: Esther 4

“For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (V 14)

Words of Devotion

The order had been given. The Jews in Persia were to be killed. Even though she was Persia's queen, Esther did not know if she could make a difference. But her cousin, Mordecai, recognized that Esther had been prepared uniquely by God for this crisis. Though she had doubts, he told her, "Who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"

After a time of fasting, Esther approached the king. Wonderfully, her courageous actions changed the course of history and saved her people.

There are many reasons why we might feel inadequate, unworthy, or incapable of making a difference. We might like to be somewhere else, doing something different.

But God has a plan for our lives. He has uniquely prepared each of us to accomplish something special for His Kingdom. The world is changed and lives are saved when individual men and women realize that they have been called "for such a time as this" and, through faith, they take action.

Today, God has called you "for such a time as this. It is no accident that you are where you are, doing what you're doing. In special ways, the Lord has uniquely prepared you to accomplish certain tasks for His Kingdom. You also need to remember that God has an appointed time for every event in your life.

Do not doubt or be discouraged or afraid. Trust God, and focus on His call for your life. He has called you for such a time as this, for this date with destiny. Be faithful to Him, and He will bless you!

Today's Prayer: Father, thank You that You have prepared me for Your plan for my life. Show me how I can serve You where I am. Help me to be faithful to You.  In Jesus' name. Amen

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Why you can live a life of complete surrender

Today’s Scripture: Psalm 5:11-12

For you bless the godly, O Lord; you surround them with your shield of love. (V 12)

Words of Devotion

It’s interesting to see the lack of confidence many people have in God’s plan for their lives. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told, “I’m afraid to surrender my life to Christ because I’m afraid He’ll send me to Africa and let me boil in oil as a missionary!”

So I’ll ask them, “Is God good? And, does He love you?” To which they’ll almost always answer, “Yes.” Then I say, “Then what makes you think He’s going to lead you down a path of destruction? Even if He does send you to Africa, you’ll be incredibly joyful because you’ll be in the middle of God’s will!”

The root of most distrust in God’s plan is either a lack of belief that He’s good, or believing He doesn't have your best interest in mind. But as we see in scripture today, God always leads you in ways that will work out for your best if you are in Christ. That means even when you suffer, you do so knowing that the victory is yours in the end.

God is good and He loves you. So trust in Him. Surrender your life to Christ in faith that no matter what happens in your life, God will show you His favor and the victory will be yours in the end!

Today, Surrender Your Life to Christ, Trusting He Will Give You the Victory in the End!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

God's Word for God's Time

Today’s Scripture: Daniel 8: 15-27

“So he came near to where I was standing, and when he came I was frightened and fell on my face; but he said to me, 'Son of man, understand that the vision pertains to the time of the end.'” (V 17)

Words of Devotion

God speaks to us in many ways—through dreams or visions, through His Word, or just in a "still small voice" (1 Kings 19:12). He speaks at specific moments and in specific circumstances. It's natural to associate God's words with the context of our lives and apply them to the circumstances we face.

Daniel seemed to react in this way as he tried to understand the vision God had given him. The angel, Gabriel, was sent to give him  understanding. The first thing the angel communicated was that the vision was not for Daniel or even his time. Rather, he was told, it "pertains to the tome of the end."

In other words, Daniel was given insight into situations that neither he nor anyone else in his lifetime ever would face. He simply was the vessel to whom God had given the vision. He did not need to understand it. He simply was being asked to receive and deliver the message, trusting that God would accomplish His purposes at the right time.

The Bible shows us that God always is looking for people He can trust, who consistently demonstrate that they obey and serve Him. He knows that we may not understand His plans or purposes.

But, as Daniel learned, we should be ready to do whatever He calls us to do—even if this means receiving insights that are for other times and other people!

Today, in every situation, seek to be a good listener, always be sensitive to God's direction and His call on your life. Be obedient in whatever He wants you to do. Always trust in Him.

Today's Prayer: Father, help me to hear Your voice more clearly and to be more sensitive to Your Spirit. I am ready to be used by You. Use me to accomplish Your purposes. In Jesus' name Amen

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Godly Heart

Today’s Scripture: Psalm 37:1-8

“Trust in the Lord and do good” (Vs 3a)

Words of Devotion

 The Lord promises to give us the desires of our hearts. But many people take this passage out of context, forgetting that their own mindset plays a vital part in bringing it to fruition. As my mother once said, "Where your mind goes, your feet go, so be careful what you think about."

What is your responsibility when it comes to claiming promises from God?

Delight yourselves in the Lord (v. 4). Christians should rejoice in God and desire to walk in obedience. The Lord must have first place in your life before you can claim the promise in this verse.

Commit your way to the Lord (v. 5). Allow God to change any aspect of your ambition that is not His will. Remember that when He doesn't answer a prayer as you wished, it is for a reason.

Trust in Him (v. 5). God is merciful, all-knowing, kind, and generous. You can trust Him with your hopes and dreams.

Rest in Him (v. 7). Resting in the Lord means trusting Him to answer prayers in His timing or transform your aspirations so they conform to His will.

Wait upon the Lord patiently (v. 7). Jesus waited three decades before beginning His three-year ministry on earth. According to His example, waiting is one of the key principles of Christian living.

Do your desires align with God's purpose and plan for your life? He longs to give His followers abundant blessings and fullness of joy. So allow your dreams to be conformed to the Lord's will, and follow His guidance faithfully. Only when you surrender to Him will you experience God's best for your life.

Today:  How can we know whether we have true faith? What is the Evidence that we can really know and that others can see?

Pray: Lord, help me to honestly examine myself Thank You that as I do so, I can trust Your Spirit to show me what is displeasing to You. Amen

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Suffering Savior

Today Read: Psalm 22, Matthew 27:46

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (vs. 22:1a)

 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli,[a] lema sabachthani?” (Which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (vs. 46)

Words of Devotion

In many ways this is the most amazing of all the psalms. In it we have a picture of the crucifixion and resurrection of the Lord Jesus painted by the psalmist David one thousand years before Jesus Christ was born. It constitutes one of the most amazing predictions of all time.

At least nine specific events or aspects of the crucifixion are described here in minute detail. All of them were fulfilled during the six hours in which Jesus hung upon the cross. Moreover, the latter part of the psalm clearly depicts the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. The probability that the predictions of these nine events would be fulfilled by chance in one person, on one afternoon is inconceivably small. The chance that all this could occur by accident is beyond any realm of possibility our minds could imagine. Yet all was fulfilled as predicted in this amazing psalm.

It is common knowledge that on November 22, 1963, President John Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, while riding down a Dallas street in a car. Suppose there had been in existence a document that predicted this event, and we knew it had been written in AD 963. That was about the time of the height of the Byzantine Empire, when most of the Western world was ruled from Constantinople, much of Europe was only sparsely inhabited by barbarian tribes, and America was not yet discovered.

Suppose that a document had been prepared in that ancient day that predicted that a time would come when a man of great prominence, head of a great nation, would be riding down a street of a large city in a metal chariot not drawn by horses and would suddenly and violently die as a little piece of metal hurled from a weapon made of wood and iron penetrated his brain. This weapon would be aimed at him from the window of a tall building, and his death would have worldwide effect and cause worldwide mourning.

You can imagine with what awe such a document would be viewed today. Such a prediction would be similar to what we have in Psalm 22. That hypothetical prediction would have been made even before the invention of the automobile or firearms and five hundred years before the discovery of America. It would be regarded as fantastically accurate. Yet we have that very sort of thing in this psalm.

The psalm has two major divisions. The first twenty-one verses recount for us the torments of an unknown sufferer who is entirely alone and is crying out to God in His agony. Many scholars assert that these first twenty-one verses represent the thoughts that went through the mind of the Savior as He hung upon the cross and suffered there.

Then from verse twenty-two to the end the sufferer is no longer alone but is in the midst of a large company and is praising God and shouting in victory. It ends with His claiming the worship of the entire world.

Today: Remember when Jesus became sin for you, He endured unthinkable separation from the Father fulfilling amazing prophecy. What implication does that have for you today?

Pray: Lord Jesus, it is unfathomable to me what You endured on the cross. Thank You for Your willingness to suffer and die. I worship you as my Savior and Lord. Amen

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Prayer of Passion

Today’s Scripture: Psalm 139:19-24

“If only you would slay the wicked, O God! Away from me you bloodthirsty men!” (vs. 19)

Words of Devotion

Why do these psalmists seem all of a sudden to interject these bloody thoughts? Why this sudden word of passion, If only you would slay the wicked! This has troubled many because it seems so far from the New Testament standard, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44). How shall we understand these things?

We need to recognize that everything the psalmist asks for is not necessarily a reflection of God's will. We are reading the experiences of believers, and their thoughts are not always reflections of God's perfect will. At times, the Psalms earnestly mirror the human viewpoint, and we need to understand these passages in their context. In this paragraph, the psalmist, having been gripped by his close relationship with God, now naturally comes to the place where he asks God for something. That is also what we do. When we are aware of being near to God, being dear to Him, we tend to ask God for things, but those things are not always in keeping with God's best for us. That is what this psalmist is doing.

He asks God to take care of the problem of the wicked. His suggested manner of handling it is rather naive. He says, Lord, wipe them out, as though such a simple remedy for human ills had never occurred to the Almighty. Have you ever felt that way? One of the refreshing things about these psalms is the honesty they reflect.

There are several things we need to note about this: For one thing, this psalmist's request falls short even of the Old Testament standard. It is the Old Testament that first says, Love your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus 19:18). The New Testament and the Old Testament are not opposed to one another in this matter of moral standards. But this man has not yet learned this. In his honesty, he saysLord, it seems to me the easiest way for You to handle this problem of evil would be to slay the wicked. Why don't you do that?

Here is the case of a man who has felt God's hatred against sin but not yet God's love for the sinner. That is why, I think, he concludes with these words: Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting  (Psalm 139:23-24). Is he not saying, Lord, I don't understand this problem of evil? It appears to me the easiest way is for you to eliminate the evil person. But Lord, I also know that I don't think very clearly, and I don't often have the right answer. So Lord, in case I don't have the right remedy for this problem, let me add this prayer: 'Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

TodayHow much of your prayer time is occupied with petitions formed by your finite understanding? Is there a better way to pray? Have you yet felt God's love for sinners?

Pray: Father, how desperately I need to be led through the complexities of my life. Help me not to settle for simple yet wrong solutions but to be willing to let You work out Your own purposes knowing that You have taken all the factors into consideration. Amen

Monday, October 15, 2012

Help from the Sanctuary

Today’s ScripturePsalm 20

“May he send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion” (Vs 2).

Words of Devotion

That is wonderful—help from the sanctuary! The sanctuary is always a picture of the place where we meet with God. In Israel it was the temple, the place where the Israelites came to get their thoughts straightened out, to get their thinking corrected. There they met with God, and there they heard the Word of God, the mind and thoughts of God.

In Psalm 73 the psalmist is deeply troubled by the prosperity of the wicked, that perennial problem that can still bother us: Why do the ungodly prosper while the righteous seem to be downtrodden all the time? This had upset him—until he finally went into the sanctuary. There he began to perceive their end. There he began to see the whole story; he began to see the full picture, and his thoughts were corrected. This is what the sanctuary does.

For us the sanctuary is the Scriptures. There is where we get help. It is there that our minds are illuminated, that we begin to see the world the way it is, not the way it appears to be. There is not one of us who has not already learned that life is not the way it seems to be, that what looks to be the answer and what we are convinced at first is the way things are often turns out to be exactly the opposite.

Life is filled with illusion, with deceit; things are not what they appear to be. Doesn't your heart cry for somebody to tell you the truth, to tell you the way things really are, to open your eyes to what is going on? That is what the Bible does. And unless you are in the Scriptures, there is no help. May you find help in the sanctuary, in the Scriptures, is the psalmist's prayer, that your eyes might be enlightened and you might understand.

Help from the sanctuary and support from Zion. Zion is another name for Jerusalem, the capital of the kingdom. In the Scriptures it stands as a symbol of the invisible kingdom of God with which we are surrounded, made up of ministering angels sent forth to serve those who are to be the heirs of salvation. In other words, all the invisible help that God can give you in the day of trouble, in the hour of pressure, is made available by prayer.

Remember that in the Garden of Gethsemane, as Jesus was praying and sweating drops of blood in the height of His agony, an angel appeared and ministered to Him and strengthened Him. That angel was made visible to Him in order that we might be taught a lesson of what happens when we pray. I have gone into prayer depressed and defeated, but while I have prayed I have felt my spirits caught up, changed, and strengthened. I came out calm, at rest, and at peace. Why, because I had received help from Zion.

Today: Where do you turn when your heart is troubled and your mind is confused by all that is happening in your world? Where is your place of quiet confidence and rest?

Pray: Lord, there are far too many places I turn in times of trouble. Teach me to turn to your sanctuary for the help that I need. Amen

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Steadfast Love

Today’s Scripture: Psalm 107:1, 33-43

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever (Vs 1).

Words of Devotion

This is the recurrent theme of Psalm 107. The psalmist speaks of the steadfast love of God. In Hebrew, the word means an eager and ardent desire and refers to the fact that God's love never gives up. 

We sing about it in the hymn,

O Love that will not let me go

The Love of God

The thing that finally gets to us, breaks the back of our rebellion, and sets us free from our emotional hang-ups is the unqualified love of God, which never lets us go. We might use a term that is more easily understood in our day. Instead of steadfast love, read unqualified acceptance. That is what God's love does. It accepts us without reserve.

Whoever is wise, let him heed these things and consider the great love of the LORD (Psalm 107:43). That means you are to think about all this! Ask yourself how this relates to you. Many people are going through a difficult situation. Many are wandering, restless, hostile, or bitter. They are held prisoner by some attitude, outlook, or habit. Or they are sick, neurotic, emotionally upset. Perhaps some are fearful, troubled by a crisis into which they have come. This might be your situation.

Stop and think about how God accepts you, how He loves you, how He is deeply concerned about you and will meet you right where you are and take you just as you are. His love does not change a bit whether you are a failure or a success. It does not make any difference to Him how you appear in the eyes of others. God loves you; He is concerned about you and has already received you, already given you all that he can give in Jesus Christ. Begin to rejoice in that fact. You will find that love will set you free so that you can act upon the power and liberty God gives.

When you think about your relationship to others, give heed to these things. Have you ever tried unqualified acceptance with your boss, your mother-in-law, or the kid next door who is so mean and difficult?

Have you ever tried unqualified acceptance with your children when they are giving you so much trouble, your teenagers who make you mad every time you come in the door? Have you ever tried unqualified acceptance with your parents, who are always on your back and never seem to give you a break? Have you ever tried unqualified acceptance with those who are difficult or demanding of you?

Today: Everyone longs for enduring love. Where can we go to experience this unqualified acceptance? How can we ourselves freely give it? In Christ we can!

Prayer: Father, how wonderful to see that Your unqualified love is designed for every situation in which I might find myself. I ask You to set me free by love that I might sing this wonderful song of deliverance. Amen

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

When Feet Slip

Today’s Scripture: Psalm 73:1-14

But as for me, I almost lost my footing.  My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone.  For I envied the proud when I saw them prosper despite their wickedness. (Vs 2-3)

 Words of Devotion

When you were a new Christian, were you troubled by the feeling that becoming a child of God ought to make life easier for you because you had become the object of a heavenly Father's love and care, but instead you found things became worse? You finally found yourself frustrated and depressed, especially when you saw that the ungodly around you were often enjoying life to the full. There are many Christians who struggle with such a problem. It is this very problem that is brought before us in Psalm 73.

The problem is stated for us in the opening verses. What was bothering the psalmist was the apparent contradiction between what he had been taught in the Scriptures--that God was good to the upright and to those who were pure in heart--and his experience in life.

 He was envious, he said, of the arrogant and disturbed by the prosperity of the wicked. That prosperity seemed to him to be a direct contradiction to what he had been taught about God. He had been told that if you are upright and pure in heart, that is, you had learned to lay hold of the righteousness that God provides and were cleansed by His grace, then God would be good to you, take care of you, and watch over you.

Instead, this man was finding his own situation to be difficult and very discouraging, but the wicked around him, the ungodly, seemed to prosper, and everything was going well with them. This bothered him greatly. He could not reconcile this. It troubled him so terribly that it created a deep resentment and envy in his heart. Ultimately he found himself threatened with a complete loss of faith. His feet had almost slipped, he had almost stumbled, and he had come to the place where he was almost ready to renounce his faith.

Here is one of the great values of the Psalms for us. These wonderful folk songs of faith reflect our own experience. They are an enactment of what most of us are going through, have gone through, or will go through in the walk of faith. There have been many Christians troubled like this. They have been swayed by the seeming logic of the argument of the infidel or atheist. They say, How can your God be both a God of love and power? If He's a God of power, as you Christians say He is and can do all things, then He cannot be a God of love, or He would do something to correct injustices. 

New Christians are often tremendously affected by this argument and become discouraged and frightened as they face the seeming logic of it. How can God be both a God of love and power and yet allow His own to suffer so terribly at times while the unrighteous seem to prosper and everything goes well with them? 
That was the problem this man was facing.

Today, know that God does not wince at our hard questions and weak faith. Are you willing to learn to be honest with God, exposing yourself to the probing of the Spirit?

Prayer: Lord, help me to trust, despite what I often see around me, that You are a God of both infinite power and infinite love. Amen

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Dwelling Place

Today’s Scripture: Psalm 90:1-6

Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God (Vs 1-2).

Words of Devotion

In this psalm Moses begins by declaring that God has been the dwelling place of people in all generations. What is a dwelling place? It is where you live, your home. This statement declares that God has been the home of humans ever since they have been on the earth. In all generations, God is where they continually live. You will recognize that this is the same truth Paul uttered when he addressed the Athenians on Mars Hill. He explained to them that God is not far from any of us (even pagans, he points out), for in him we live and move and have our being(Acts 17:28). God exists as a home for people.

That is a tremendous thought, isn't it? Here Moses is looking back over the course of human history and declaring that God is great because He is the God of history. Moses had seen pharaohs live and die. Perhaps he had seen the tombs of the pharaohs and noted the many who in the past had been laid to rest. Despite the passing centuries, there is no change in the relationship of humans to God. He has been the home of people for all generations.

Then Moses points out that God is the God of creation. Here he is looking back across that record and saying that before the mountains were formed, God was. Then before that, he brought forth the earth and the world. To us that is saying the same thing, but in the Hebrew it is literally the earth and the land. God formed the earth first and then later brought out the land from the waters, as the book of Genesis makes clear. The land emerged from waters that covered the earth. So Moses is gradually moving back in time from the formation of the mountains to the emergence of the land and finally the creation of the earth itself. Before all this, God was.

Then he takes a longer leap into timelessness and says, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. Surely here is the greatness of God. He is the God of history. He is the God of creation. But beyond all that, He is the God of eternity. He is beyond and above His creation. He is greater than the universe He produced, and before it existed, He was. In fact, the Hebrew here is again very interesting. It suggests the translation, From the vanishing point in the past to the vanishing point in the future; thus, from everlasting to everlasting God exists. How great He is!

Today, know that; Home is where the heart is. Have our hearts found that place of Sabbath rest in Him who is our true home? He is seeking us; are you seeking Him?

Prayer: When I think that Moses, so many long centuries ago, understood these great facts about You, I am inclined to cry with him, Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.