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Devotional for 11-24-2017

WHY WORSHIP?

We live in a busy world. Days are crowded with more things to do than time allows. Instant texting and rapid responses to anything and everything, whether accurate or not, crown every moment of our lives. Everyone seems to have an opinion we need to hear on every subject – from the mundane to the insane, from the very important to “stuff” that does not matter. We have become conditioned to listen for something to listen to whether it matters or not.

Psalm 75 explodes with an important reminder. “We give thanks to You, O God, we give thanks for Your Name is near! Men tell of your wondrous works!” The fact that the word thanks appears twice in one sentence makes it intense and dramatic. But we should not be surprised. We are to thank God not only for His wondrous works but because He is near! God Himself, our God Who created everything and is in everything and sustains everything is close by.

Jesus once commanded Peter to cast his net into the water to catch some fish. He did and was amazed at the results. The disciple falls at His feet in fear and wonder. What a miracle! Jesus spoke and things happened. God’s presence and power came to life instantly.

The same is true for us today. While we may not see many extreme displays of His power, nonetheless He is at work. The little gifts in our lives as well as the immense miracles in our lives prove that He is near us and caring for us. We must always be aware of His presence.

Prayer: We cannot thank You enough, Father, for Your unending blessings in our lives. May we thank You continuously. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 75:1 We praise you, God, we praise you, for your Name is near; people tell of your wonderful deeds.

Devotional for 11-23-2017

GIVE THANKS IN ALL THINGS

When four-year-old Sammy awoke after surgery, the nurse explained that it would be necessary for him to be fed intravenously for the next few days.

After assuring him that everything would be fine, she began the process to administer the glucose. Always in the habit of giving thanks before each meal, Sammy asked in a brave and cheerful voice, “Aren’t you going to give thanks?”

It is not easy to give thanks in painful situations. Nor is it natural to see God’s goodness in all of life’s trials and troubles. But the Apostle Paul reminds us to “Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

When we give thanks, we acknowledge our confidence in the Lord, knowing that He cares for us. When we give thanks, we express our closeness to God, realizing that He is with us in every situation. When we give thanks, we declare that we are willing to accept the wisdom of God knowing that His will is being done.

Prayer: Dear Lord, may I learn the grace of giving thanks to You in all of life’s situations. Help me to realize that You are always with me, watching, protecting, providing and guiding me in every area of life. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Scripture for Today: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Devotional for 11-22-2017

HE WILL BE KING!

A comedian was known to have a quick mind and could turn any subject into a joke. On one occasion he said to his audience, “I can make a joke on any subject. Try me!”

A gentleman stood up and shouted, “The subject is The King.”

Quickly he replied, “The King can never be a subject!”

There is a Psalm that reflects this truth. The people of Israel had an unpredictable relationship with God. There were times when He was indeed their Lord and there were times when they refused to allow Him to be their King. They wanted their own way. They wanted Him to be subject to them.

But the writer of the Psalm was different. He said, “But God is my King from long ago; He brings salvation to the earth.” He wanted God to be His Ruler – His King.

Jesus was born to be King. There were twelve whom He chose to become His disciples. And there were many who followed Him, listened to Him, believed in Him – yet never fully surrendered their hearts and lives to Him. They did not allow Him to be their King and refused to become His subjects. One day they shouted: “We will not have this Man rule over us!” And they crucified Him.

Many years ago hundreds of college students from around the world met in London before going to their mission fields. The group from Japan could not attend but sent a message that read, “Make Jesus King!”

We can change the world if Jesus becomes King of our lives.

Prayer: Come, Lord Jesus, and rule in our hearts. May we serve You as loyal subjects and honor Your Name forever. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 74:12 But God is my King from long ago; he brings salvation on the earth.

Devotional for 11-21-2017

STAY CLOSE: AVOID DISASTER

“That sure was close, Mom,” said Little George.

“What do you mean?” asked his mother.

“Well, I got three days behind in my prayers and when I heard the thunder and saw the lightning I prayed really hard and got caught up and now I’m not afraid.”

We all allow “gaps” to develop in our prayer life. When things are going the way we want them to go and there are no serious problems to deal with, it’s easy to “let up” on the time we spend with God in prayer.

This life style is not uncommon. In fact, the Psalmist came to the same conclusion when he wrote, “But as for me, it is good to be near God.”

We have all met people in life that keep everyone at a distance. Whether they don’t want to know us or they don’t want us to know them may never be clear. But we feel the separation and there is not much, if anything, we can do about it. So, we move on.

But with God it is different. We can get as close to Him as we desire. In fact, we all know that drawing close to God is something that He wants us to do. His gracious invitation “come to me” is always available.

Life is like an “incline” if we are not walking upward toward Him we are slipping downward away from Him. My mother once said to me, “Larry, if you are not as close to God as you once were, you are the one who has moved.” And she added, “Draw close to Him and He will get closer to you.”

God not only waits for us to come to Him, but constantly calls: “Come to Me.”

Prayer: Lord, may we feel Your presence each moment of every day and stay close to You as we face life’s storms. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 73:28 But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.

Devotional for 11-20-2017

I DIDN’T HAVE ANYONE TO TURN TO

A young child had been lost in the woods. After a long search the rescue team found him and returned him to his anxious parents. With tear-filled eyes he looked at his mother and said, “Mom, when I was lost in the woods I had no one to turn to. Now that I’m back in your arms, I do!”

A Psalmist made the same statements: “Whom have I in heaven but You? And earth has nothing that I desire besides You.”

No one or no thing can do for us what our Heavenly Father can do for us. Nor is there anyone anywhere who will ever mean more to us or be more for us than our Lord – if we allow Him.

Some, we know, turn to materialism rather than the Master. There is nothing wrong with having money but it is wrong when we worship money, allow our lives to be consumed with making money so we can acquire the things of this world. In the end, materialism consumes us because there is never enough to calm our fears or give us peace.

Others look for the answers to life in science. Science has provided many benefits and increased and made our lives more enjoyable. But science cannot cleanse us from sin or assure us of peace and hope in this world and a life with our Father in the world to come. Science can improve our earthly lives but it cannot impart eternal life.

Wisely the Psalmist reviewed his past carefully and realized that apart from God there was nothing worth living for.

Prayer: Help us to understand, Father, that in You we find peace and satisfaction, completeness and hope. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 73:25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. 

Devotional for 11-19-2017

THE END!

Christianity is not a religion. Religion is man seeking a god. But in Christianity it is exactly the opposite: it is God seeking man through Jesus Christ. Scripture informs us that God “sent His Son” into the world to seek and to save us that we might have a relationship with Him. It is a relationship that is certain, constant and continual.

It begins with a grip. A visitor to the Alps decided to go mountain climbing with a famous guide. As they ascended the mountain all went well until they came to a dangerous crevice. His guide held out his hand but the visitor was reluctant and hesitated. “Grab my hand,” shouted the guide. “That hand has never lost anyone.” So it is with God. “I am always with you,” said the Psalmist, “You hold me by my right hand.”

It continues with a Guide. God has a plan for each of us. He knows our possibilities and our limitations. Only He can guide us in the right path because He created us to be God-guided in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. We often fall short of what God intended us to be and become but if we are willing he will lead us carefully and safely through life. The Psalmist wisely wrote, “You guide me with Your counsel.”

It ends in glory – not a grave. What a blessed hope! He extends His sure-handed grip to keep us from falling. And with our hand in His, He guides us every day of our lives. Finally we end up living eternally with Him in heaven. All because our Father loves us with an everlasting love.

Prayer: We thank You, Father, for the assurance of Your presence and power in our lives – today and every day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 73:23, 24 Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.  You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. 

Devotional for 11-18-2017

DISCOVERING THE GOODNESS OF GOD

If God is good, why do the godly have grief? If God is fair, why do the faithful fail? If God cares, why does He allow Christians to have cancer? If God is powerful, why are innocent people murdered?

And why are the ungodly prosperous? Why are the ungodly happy? Why are the ungodly recipients of any good thing? After all, they are ungodly!

The writer of Psalm 73 had a problem with bad people living godless lives and receiving earthly rewards. He was a bit angry when he saw their lavish lives. They appeared to have everything their hearts desired, lived lives of ease and were healthy. Their riches multiplied even though they scoffed at God and threatened His children. What’s up?

So the writer of the Psalm became vain. He avoided evil and when he sinned he immediately confessed and asked God to forgive him. He read God’s Word, engaged in prayer and tried to live a godly life. But all he got from God was trouble: all day, every day! Finally he asked God, “Am I wasting my time? Why should I bother to be godly?”

Fortunately, he went to the right place for an answer. “Finally,” he concluded when he went to the sanctuary to worship, “I understood their end!” Wrongs in this life will be corrected in the next! Remember: Dives lived in pleasure and Lazarus in pain. But there came a day when things were reversed: Dives was tormented by flames and Lazarus went to live lavishly in his Father’s Home.

The ungodly leave their treasures at death but the godly only begin to enjoy theirs with their Father.

Prayer: Give us a strong faith, Father, to look beyond what is to what will be when we are at last with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 73:12 This is what the wicked are like—always free of care, they go on amassing wealth.

Devotional for 11-17-2017

CARDIO-CARE

Our hearts are amazing! The average adult heart beats 72 times a minute; 100,000 times a day; 3,600,000 times a year; and 2.5 billion times during a life time.

Although the adult heart only weighs about 11 ounces on average, a healthy heart pumps 2,000 gallons of blood through 60,000 miles of blood vessels each day. If laid out end to end it would circle the globe two times. It pumps blood to almost all of the body’s 75 trillion cells. Only our cornea receives no blood. During an average lifetime, the heart will pump nearly 1.5 billion barrels of blood – enough to fill 200 train tank cars. And every day the heart creates enough energy to drive a truck 20 miles. In a lifetime, it will create enough energy to drive it to the moon and back.

When we consider all that our hearts do for us, its importance cannot be measured. Without its constant beating we could not live. It sustains our lives. Its every beat is a gift from God but we rarely think about it unless we have “heart-problems.” Yet, physical-heart problems are not as serious as spiritual-heart problems. Only God can do miracles with “both” hearts.

The word “heart” occurs six times in Psalm 73. But in verse one it speaks of “those who are pure in heart” – those whose heart is completely committed to God and place Him first in their lives and love Him unconditionally.

Over this God-centered heart is the heart that Jeremiah describes: “a heart that is deceitful and beyond cure.” A heart in this condition needs the Great Physician to cleanse it, restore it, live in it and fill it with His love.

Prayer: Help us, Father, to make room in our hearts for You – to allow Your Spirit to occupy it completely. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 73:1 Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. 

Devotional for 11-16-2017

QUALIFICATION FOR LEADERS

Books on leadership line the shelves of bookstores. Each month, it seems, there are new titles that describe some new technique that will make any leader a better leader. From the “who to,” to the “how to,” to the “where to,” to the “what to,” to the “why to” and the “when to” these books cover every imaginable leadership situation. But none of them ever give a money back guarantee with the promise that “if you do this you will become successful and rise to the top.”

Solomon is recognized as a great leader. And as the author of Psalm 72 he describes the leadership qualities of a king that would be honored and blessed of God.

It is no wonder, then that he begins with justice and righteousness. It is almost impossible to imagine what it would be like if every leader at every level in every organization was committed to being just and righteous. Yet, this is what God wants and expects of leaders.

“Endow the king with Your justice, O God…May he judge Your people with righteousness!” Although our text reads justice, Solomon was asking God for leaders to set in motion a process that every leader would “do acts of justice, based on righteousness” that flowed from the top down. Solomon wanted everyone to be treated fairly.

Of course, we say, “That’s not possible, Lord.” But He says to each of us “as one of my disciples you must do this. Even if no one else demonstrates my justice and if no one else shows my righteousness to those around them then you, as my disciple, must set the example. You are accountable to me!”

Prayer: Help us, Father, to realize that we either bring others to You or drive them from You by the way we lead. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 72:1 Endow the king with your justice, O God, the royal son with your righteousness. 

Devotional for 11-15-2017

LEGACIES THAT LIVE

What others did in the past influences what we do today. What is done today will influence what goes on in the future. It’s like dominoes: stand them on end and place them in a line – one after another – and if the one at the beginning or end of the line is pushed over, all of them will fall down.

We all leave legacies. And all legacies are different because everyone is different. We seldom realize that we actually leave two different types of legacies. Most of the time we think of leaving a legacy of valuables: money, stocks, property, insurance, vehicles, jewelry – things that have monetary value.

But we rarely think of the legacy we leave that has eternal value – a value that has moral and spiritual influence or impact on the lives of others. Whether or not we realize it or want to admit it, we cannot not influence or impact the lives of others.

The writer of Psalm 71 was very conscious of the spiritual values he would leave behind. “Even when I am old and grey,” he wrote, “do not forsake me my God, till I declare Your power to the next generation, Your mighty acts to all who are to come.”

In the preceding verses he recalled the goodness of God in his life: “You are my refuge, my rock, my fortress, my hope, my confidence, my teacher, my Savior.” God had been with Him, had honored and protected him and made his life worthwhile. He wanted others to know this God.

So, he asked God to spare him so he could share His faith and hope.

Prayer: Lord of our lives – may every day of our life be a witness to others and may we leave a legacy of Your love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 71:18 Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come.

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