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Devotional for 5-26-2019

NO ONE CAN ESCAPE

Proverbs 15 contains fifteen references to the “tongue.” Between two of the references, verses two and four, we come across another word that is important in the process of communication: “eyes.” Although we do not ordinarily think of the eyes as part of the communication process, in this verse it is: “The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.”

One of the words we use to describe the nature of God is “omniscient.” It means that God is “all knowing, all wise, and all-seeing.” Used in this verse, “the eyes of the Lord,” implies that God “sees” what we say. Scripture, very clearly and frequently, teaches us that “God knows everything.” His Word emphasizes this fact. So, we need not wonder if He can actually “see what we say.”

It is almost frightening to reflect on “keeping watch on the wicked and the good.” Keeping watch made me think of the stories my brother and sisters often told me: “Be careful! Mom has eyes in the back of her head.” In other words, her face may be looking in one direction, but that does not mean she cannot see what is going on when she is not looking.

The author of Hebrews reminds us that “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”

We must never fool ourselves because we are His children and expect favors if we are disobedient to His Word. Everyone is accountable to Him for everything and anything!

Prayer: Lord, may we be mindful that You watch us closely and do our best to please You. Empower us to be obedient to Your Word and expectations. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Proverbs 15:3 The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good. 

Devotional for 5-25-2019

WORDS AND WRATH

“Try it! I promise you it will work,” said Mrs. Ron.

“No, it won’t. They’ll just yell louder and louder,” I responded with certainty.

“How do you know? Have you ever tried it? If you did try it, what happened? Did the shouting stop?” she asked.

“I don’t know because I’ve never had anyone tell me that before,” I replied as I gave up. I knew that she had an advantage over me from her years of experience as a teacher.

Her theory was simple and seemed senseless. “When children, either individually or in a group, raise their voices, if you speak in a hushed tone, they will quiet down. They want to hear what you are saying. Their curiosity will get the best of them,” she explained.

After thinking about it, I decided to follow her recommendation since nothing I tried had worked. To my surprise, it worked. And it does make sense, when you think about it.

Solomon may not have known much about anger management, but he gave some great advice when he wrote, “A soft gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” We see that all too often when mobs gather to protest. Both sides believe they can gain the advantage with volume.

“A harsh word” does not suggest that a person is using words that are irrational or abrasive – though they may be part of the “conversation.” Rather, it refers to one who intends to use words to destroy another by design. We are once again reminded of the power of the tongue! Softness can represent power if we follow the Word and teachings of Scripture.

Prayer: Lord, how wonderful is Your Word that informs us of the power of our words. May we always speak gently and confidently as we follow Your teachings. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Proverbs 15:1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. 

Devotional for 5-24-2019

FACTS SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” said George Santayana in 1863. However, it does not matter who said it or when, history has proven this fact time and time again.

Generations come and go, governments rise and fall, generals win one battle and then lose the next, good times are enjoyed and then disaster sets in while no one was paying attention. People and leaders become so involved in “their particular thing” that they lose sight of the big picture and how nations become estranged from God. They do not hear His voice nor heed His Word and forget what righteousness is about, where it comes from, and how it stabilizes a nation.

“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people,” is an oft-quoted and well-known verse. It is mentioned frequently by the clergy and often by government leaders. But the words fall silently to the ground, and nothing changes.

Solomon used the word “exalts” by design. He was aware of the power of that word and understood what it meant to individuals and nations. “If” the people of a nation come together and honor God and “lift” Him up in worship, and are obedient to His laws, “they” will be blest and have His favor and protection and respect.

However, the alternative to a “righteous” nation is one whose sin is destructive, despicable and ultimately dishonors God. When this happens, it brings indescribable shame and disgrace to its people. In the end, it destroys what God designed.

Prayer: Father, may we take Your warnings seriously, recognize the ravages and result of sin and repent. Bring revival to our nation. We need you! Awaken us! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Proverbs 14:34 Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin condemns any people. 

Devotional for 5-23-2019

HONOR THE POOR

We were sitting in the “break room” having lunch. I had been invited to eat with the employees to “connect” with a young man who was having serious financial and marital problems. When he finished eating, he took his plastic dinnerware to the sink, washed them, wrapped them in a napkin, and put them in his pocket.

Another employee noticed what he did and said sarcastically, “Wow, you’re really having it tough. Want mine too? No doubt your family could use them.”

When those words pierced his heart, he burst into tears, dropped his head to his chest and stood quietly, not knowing what to say. One more blow for him deal with and struggle to overcome on his path to survival.

I walked up to him, put my arm around his shoulder and said, “I’ve gone through difficult times, too. I’m glad I had to do without when I was your age because now I understand your feelings and know you will survive.”

The one who “oppresses the poor” is not a friend of God. In fact, such behavior reflects their attitude toward the One who created both. If anyone has contempt for another person, it spills over onto God – for He gave life for both and they are of equal value in His sight. We sometimes forget that His Son died for both – as He did for each of us.

Whatever anyone has is a gift from God to be used to honor Him – including plastic dinnerware. Jesus made that extremely clear when He said, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” When we share our love and resources with those in need, as Solomon said, we honor God.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we ask for hearts filled with compassion to care for those in need of love and life’s essentials. May we care for them as You care for us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Proverbs 14:31 Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God. 

Devotional for 5-22-2019

HEART HEALTH – LIFE HEALTH

While waiting for my appointment with a surgeon, I decided to take my pulse. It was beating slowly, well within the normal limits. Suddenly the nurse called my name and directed me to a consultation room. After I sat down, she took my temperature and blood pressure. My temperature was normal, but my blood pressure was extremely high, which was not normal for me. Then she placed two fingers on my wrist to take my pulse. From the waiting room to the consultation room my heart rate increased dramatically – over twenty beats per minute. Fear got the best of my peaceful heart.

There is a direct connection with our emotional well-being and our physical well-being. When a fear of the unknown – the possibility of surgery – was about to become known, or, facing the reality that I would be scheduled for surgery, my fear could actually be measured!

The “heart” is much more than a muscle in life and in the Bible. It is the center of our being: the source of our thoughts, our emotions, our ambitions, and where decisions are made, problems are solved, and choices sorted out. According to Scripture, the heart affects every part of our life – positively or negatively.

Solomon understood that and wisely wrote, “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the body.” It is obvious from what Solomon wrote and what science has now confirmed: our emotional – or inner – state greatly impacts our physical wellbeing and health.

Notice the impact of “envy.” It’s an emotion we all deal with. For some, the desire to want something that God has not given us can become so intense that it has the same results as cancer – it eats away life. Beware of envy.

Prayer: Grant us Your peace, Lord, to meet the problems we face each day. May we look to You for help, healing, and hope in times of trouble and pain. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Proverbs 14:30 A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. 

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Devotional for 5-21-2019

“A FOUNTAIN OF LIFE”

Here it comes again: “The fear of the Lord!”

How many times do we need to be reminded?

Certainly, one more time. And then, one more time. And after that, one more time – again and again. We quickly forget this truth whenever we believe we have any strength.

Most of us are not only forgetful, but quite often convince ourselves that we can do it “on our own” when life seems to be “trouble free” and “good again.” Perhaps that’s why those “eight words” appear together so often in Scripture. In a preceding verse Solomon said that “the fear of the Lord will be a secure fortress” – a place where we will find a powerful refuge and our safety will be as certain as God Himself.

But, again, one more time, there is more. “The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death,” wrote Solomon on behalf of God. What a wonderful promise to those who had gone without water and experienced drought and lost cattle and crops. We may fear many things, but God is the fountain of life that never runs dry. Not only is He the fountain of life, but the only source that provides refreshing, clear, clean water to quench our thirst and restore our souls daily.

How very sad for those who refuse to drink from “the fountain of life” and choose to turn to the “fun things of life.” What may appear satisfying and gratifying is often a trap and cannot quench one’s thirst. Only “He can lead us to those still waters,” restore our souls and give us eternal life. This invitation is available to all.

But life begins and ends with “The fear of the Lord.”

Prayer: Lord, we bow before You with grateful hearts and ask for Your mercy, grace, and forgiveness. May we will always approach You with grateful hearts. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Proverbs 14:27 The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, turning a person from the snares of death. 

Devotional for 5-20-2019

FINDING SECURITY

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning…”

Eight words, strung together by God, that give man the building blocks of life.
Eight words that provide the foundation for wisdom.
Eight words that are essential to understanding the meaning of life.
Eight words that guarantee a joyous life.
Eight words that lead to fulfillment in life.
Eight words that point the direction for what we must do if we want to please God.
Eight words that prove the faithfulness of God.
Eight words that are the beginning of our obedience to the Lord.
Eight words that eliminate the folly of talk and teach us how to walk before God.

And once we completely and unreservedly “fear the Lord,” we will have confidence and courage to face any obstacle in life because God is bigger than anything and everything else in the universe.

But those words do not end when our lives end. They are generational and, if the believer is faithful, will be passed from generation to generation.

Parents who want to provide safety and security and wellbeing for their children will do so because of their “fear of the Lord.” Scripture provides all the evidence any parent needs to realize the benefits that will come to their children if they – the parents – “fear the Lord” and are obedient to Him – no matter the cost! Not parents? Pass the message on. It’s lifesaving!

Prayer: Lord, may we take to heart the significance and importance of those eight words, “the fear of the Lord” is where life begins. May we recognize Your power and our limits.

Scripture For Today: Proverbs 14:26Amen. Whoever fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge. 

Devotional for 5-19-2019

THE STRENGTH IN TIMIDITY

Entertaining young children often provides moments of enduring joy and memories that last a lifetime. I often think of those days when I played “Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf?” with my sons. We made noises and faces and even built homes out of blankets and chairs. The “big bad wolf” tried to create problems for the three little pigs but was never able to harm those inside their home. They were prepared to face the threats of the big bad wolf.

We often do the same – making preparation to face the threats and uncertainties of life. We feel strong in our own strength and believe without a doubt that we can, no matter what, withstand any temptation in life.

Solomon, however, presents another way of responding to the threat of evil: be cautious or timid! When temptation threatens us and we feel incapable of rejecting it by ourselves, we are to “shun evil.” Looking deeper into these two little words we find that those who “shun evil” or are “timid” because they feel weak or are unable to reject it in their own strength, have a “built-in alarm:” the fear of the Lord! When they realize that they must face God or what could destroy them, they respond in fear and turn to God for His strength.

I often marvel at the countless alarm systems that are available to protect our lives, homes and identities from fraud and theft, danger and destruction. Some provide constant surveillance through an electronic monitoring system. Others can be self-installed and are battery operated. Both are designed to warn of “impending danger.” We have something better, stronger, more certain, and always available: God’s wisdom, strength, and power.

Prayer: Lord, help us to be so fearful of evil that we flee from it in fear rather than standing, fighting and failing. May we look to You to save us by calling on You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Proverbs 14:16 The wise fear the Lord and shun evil, but a fool is hotheaded and yet feels secure. 

Devotional for 5-18-2019

A DIFFERENCE

It was a heated argument: “Your mind is so closed that no one could get a new thought in there even if they used a sharp wedge.” “Oh yeah,” he replied. “You’re so open-minded that your brain can’t hold anything that makes sense!”

Each of us has developed our own way of thinking about and looking at things. Solomon once said that the way we think falls between two bookmarks “Simple-minded and prudent.” Being “simple-minded” means anything from being overly gullible, too hot-headed, arrogant, reckless, foolish or crafty. On the other hand, some people are “prudent.”

The “simple-minded” are so confused that they are willing to believe anything said by anybody at any time. Whatever they hear makes sense to them, and if it is a popular idea that most people embrace, it’s always right. They lack insight, sound judgment and clear thinking.

The “prudent person,” however, has both evil and good intentions. Evil intentions would be using one’s knowledge in a way that is sinister, shrewd, or misleading. Good intentions would be using one’s knowledge to discern the truth, understand people, know what is going on, looking for opportunities to serve others, and how to make wise decisions.

The wisdom of a prudent person comes from “giving thought to their steps,” or, what they plan to do. They carefully consider choices and consequences, weigh every option and opinion, and make their decisions on wisdom they have gained from their teachers. However, not all teachers honor God. So, the Christian must make decisions according to God’s Word.

Prayer: Lord, may we choose wisely those who we allow to influence our thoughts and guide our thinking. May we choose our teachers carefully before we trust them. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Proverbs 14:15 The simple believe anything, but the prudent give thought to their steps. 

Devotional for 5-17-2019

RIGHT WAY OR DEAD END?

“I wish I could buy him for what he’s worth and sell him for what he thinks he’s worth. We could both retire!” said a colleague to me after interviewing a potential employee.

Many people lead “presumptuous” lives and never get in touch with who they are and what their strengths or weaknesses might be. They refuse to see themselves as others see them, and will not admit the fact that they may have done something wrong or harmful. “It’s not my fault. It’s theirs. They just wouldn’t admit what they did.”

In the final analysis, we all have the freedom to choose what path we will take – even though, as Solomon warns, “… in the end that path leads to death.” We may choose a path, even claim that it was a “path from God and was His will for my life,” not admitting that our decision was ours alone, ill-conceived, and even ill-advised. “I certainly prayed about it!”

“Seems right” is a frightening combination of words. It simply means that “I (or someone else) did not know what was right” and went off in the wrong direction and it ended in disaster – perhaps death. “Seems right” is full of presumptions, beginning with sincerity. Although we may be very sincere about most anything we choose to do, sincerity does not lead to fulfilling God’s plan for our lives. “Seems right” can be “surely wrong!”

Those who truly want to live the “right way” will find it in God’s Word. The “right way” is living a life that agrees with the Word of God, choosing to be obedient to His commands, waiting for His guidance, and putting His will before my wants.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, may we avoid doing what “seems right” by surrendering our lives and will to You. Help us to do right and live right by following You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Proverbs 14:12 There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death. 

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