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Devotional for 9-21-2017

DON’T FORGET YOUR GOD!

Recently an item appeared on the news that told the story of a 34-year-old man suing his parents for “not preparing him to earn a living.” He asked the judge to force his parents to sell their home and from the proceeds purchase him a restaurant. Parents, he argued are responsible for providing a useful education for their children. However, this parental task is as old as mankind. It began with the children of Israel.

Psalm 48 begins with a call to praise the Lord. He is “great,” said the Psalmist, and “worthy of praise.” In between verses one and 14 the author gives many descriptions of the greatness of God and several reason why He was worthy of praise. But why is He great and why is He worthy of praise?

Contained in the Psalm is a description of the City of Zion – the “joy of the whole earth.” And what is this joy or its source? It is the City of the Great King – God Himself! And we read that “God is in her citadels; He has shown Himself to be her fortress; when kings joined forces and ‘saw her’ they fled in terror; it is the city of our God and in her temple God makes her secure forever; in His temple they meditate on His unfailing love; people in the villages are glad because of His judgments.”

The people are then told to “walk about Zion count her towers, consider well her ramparts, view her citadels that you may tell of them the next generation!”

Why were the contents of this Psalm important to the children of Israel? In His wisdom God advised the writers of this Psalm to produce a document that contained a record of God’s love and faithfulness, His goodness and guidance, His strength and power. This Psalm contains a most significant fact: Parents are to pass on to their children the fact that God, in His grace and goodness, will provide, protect and care for His children as long as they are faithful to Him.

Prayer: We thank You, Lord, for the record of Your might and majesty that gives us reasons to trust You for our salvation! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 48:14 For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end. 

Devotional for 9-20-2017

PRAISE THE CREATOR!

Years ago a rural farmer was driving his Model “T” into town when it stopped in the middle of a crossroad. He lifted the hood and was amazed at the wires and strange parts he had never bothered to look at previously. Confused, he walked around the car several times then got inside and tried to start it. Again and again he stepped on the starter, the engine would start, run a few seconds and then stop. In frustration he got out once again and slammed the door.

A gentleman approached him in a finely tailored suit, white shirt and tie and said, “Sir, your carburetor is out of adjustment. May I help you?”

Puzzled at the man’s appearance and offer to help he said quickly, “What do you know about this car?”

“Oh, I know very much about it,” came the reply. “I am Henry Ford and I made your car. Since I made it, I can fix it.”

God created the universe from “nothing.” Man came from His creative power. Yet, when things go wrong in God’s universe among the men He created, men generally look to other men to fix the problem or problems. Research is initiated, heads of state meet and negotiate, and conferences are held with any resolution only lasting for a short time.

Jesus taught us to pray, “Your will, Father, is to be done on earth as it is in heaven.” It was God’s plan that the planet He created would reflect His will and bring glory to His name. We know, however, that the first man and woman He created refused to follow His plan. Because of their decision all of us are affected by its results – suffering, wars and rumors of wars.

One day we know that He will return to earth, restore His creation and reign over His Kingdom. He will be exalted.

Prayer: May our hearts be encouraged, Lord, as we look forward to the day You will return and become our exalted King. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 46:10b He says, “I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Devotional for 9-19-2017

CONFIDENCE THROUGH QUIETNESS

Noise is a major distraction. It interrupts our thoughts, disrupts our concentration and interferes with conversations. It prevents us from going to sleep and even awakens us when we do not want to be disturbed. It is often used in athletic contests and sporting events to destroy the focus of team members at critical times.

Wisely the Psalmist advises us to “Be still, and know that I am God.” Another translation presents it differently and with more clarity: “I will be still in Your presence, O God, so I can learn to know You more intimately.” For us to grow into the likeness of Christ we must become still in the presence of God.

The word still implies the need for the Christian to see, stop, think, relax, and learn the meaning of the great events that God is performing in our lives and in the lives of those around us. Our minds are usually occupied with the ordinary, day-to-day things of life that demand our constant attention. Then suddenly and with no warning we are overwhelmed with an event that consumes us and requires our complete attention – night and day until the threat passes. It is indeed difficult to be still in the midst of life’s challenges. Life’s noises bring deafness to God’s voice.

However, when we do become still in His presence, He will bring calmness to our hearts and peace to our minds. And if we truly want to know Him, as He wants us to know Him, we will take time each day to do only one thing – experience Him as we experience any other person. We will come to know others if we spend time in their presence, believe that they care for us, open our hearts to them in trust, share with them our deepest concerns and know that they do us no harm. Be still to know.

What a Friend we can have in Jesus if we take the time!

Prayer: Help us, Father, to quiet our minds before You, open our hearts to You and share our lives with You as a dear Friend. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 46:10a He says, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

Devotional for 9-18-2017

WHAT SIZE GOD DO YOU WORSHIP?

“Is your God a great God or a little God?” asked a well-known skeptic of an elderly gentleman known for his deep love of God.

“Well,” he said after a moment’s thought, “He’s both. He’s so great that the heavens cannot contain him, and He’s so little that He can live within my heart!”

This is the identical way that the writer of Psalm 46 spoke of his God: “The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”

We often have questions about God’s involvement in our everyday affairs and concerns. “Are my personal problems, even though they are small and only matter to me, important to Him? When I have the flu and feel horrible, does it make any difference to Him? What about the threat of violence, terrorism, children being gunned down at school? What about the preacher being tried in Iran as a heretic? What about the war in Afghanistan?”

“The Lord who is Almighty,” said the Psalmist, “is with us” – not may be or should be or will be – but is with us this very moment. Wherever we are – He is. From our smallest need to our greatest problem He is with us and is always ready, willing and able to do His will for us and through us.

Yet, there is more: He is not only with us, but He is our fortress. When this Psalm was written, a fortress was a place of security and safety. It was built on an isolated, elevated place to provide protection from the enemy. It was the place to go if an enemy was approaching.

What powerful thoughts: Our God is an Almighty God who cares for each of us and protects us from any threat in life.

Prayer: Lord, we marvel at Your greatness and are humbled by Your goodness when we understand Your concern for us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 46:7 The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. 

Devotional for 9-17-2017

THEREFORE…

Few of us ever stop to think about the fact that the continents on planet Earth are actually afloat. Geologists have discovered that the continents continue to change their shape and form by moving plates. Volcanoes are the earth’s “heating and air-conditioning vents” that are arranged around the plates that allow them to “exhale” when the heat and pressure build. We live on a dynamic planet that constantly expands and contracts, moves and reshapes itself.

God, our Creator, did not “begin” something and then turn it “loose” to go its own way. The universe, in all of its many intricacies, reflects purpose and meaning, design and direction. If, as the geologists have proven, the earth is moving and changing and not in a fixed position, where can we find security and stake out a place where we will be safe from all of the “turbulence” of life?

Scripture always has the answer for life’s essential questions and concerns. Psalm 46 begins with the statement that “God is our refuge, our strength and our help.” That verse is followed by another statement that gives us the assurance that “we need not fear, though the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea!” In these two verses we are given God’s answer for life’s never ending uncertainties. When we face times of insecurity and instability “we do not need to fear” because our God Who created it all is in all and working out His plan for our lives.

The essential fact, however, is that we must have faith and hope. We must have unquestioning faith in our God Who created and now sustains the universe and everything and everyone in it and on it and hope in Him who does all things well.

Prayer: Grant us Your peace and the assurances that come only from You that our fears are unfounded if we trust in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 46:2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea. 

Devotional for 9-16-2017

HELP WHEN YOU NEED IT

There are few things that are more important to us than our safety and security. We depend on rules and regulations for our well-being and protection. We have the police to protect us and the military to guard us. We rely on individuals we have never met to enforce laws and be alert if there is an emergency. Yet, in spite of all of the layers of defense that have been placed around us, the threats of life continue to surround us. We search for a moment of peace in these times of turbulence.

However, as Christians we must always remember that we have a resource that is always available. The Psalmist reminds us that “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Not only are we reminded that God is our refuge and strength but that He is ever-present!

The word refuge means shelter. When the rains fall and the rivers rise we find a place of security in the arms of God. When days are dark and nights long we have His light to shine around us and keep us from falling. When sickness strikes and illness lingers we have the assurance of His presence and peace.

And His strength – His mighty power – is there as our shield and sword. No one would go into any battle without the proper equipment to protect and defend himself. Here, however, we are reminded that the battle belongs to our God and He will not only fight for us but will protect us from anyone who would hurt or harm us, destroy or defeat us.

And we can take great assurance that His refuge and strength are ever-present. He is with us – not He might be with us – wherever we are. We have no reason to be frightened when the world seems to be closing in on us and the pressures of life are about to overcome us. God: our refuge and strength – here, now.

Prayer: Help us to realize, Lord, Your presence in our lives and involvement in anything and everything that concerns us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. 

Devotional for 9-15-2017

HONOR HIM!

Honor gives recognition to the work of someone other than ourselves. It is placing significance, importance or value on what they have done or accomplished. It places them above us in a position that commands respect for what they have done or who they are.

To honor someone requires us, first and foremost, to be humble. We literally bow before them in recognition for what they have done for us or what they have contributed to our lives and to our well-being. What they have done has cost them something. Perhaps they have had to make a sacrifice and the price is more than we can or are able to pay them for what they have done for us.

Honoring someone is not always easy. Pride gets in the way. Self-importance or not wanting to stand aside while others move to the front of the line often complicates things. It is not easy to give credit to someone when I am obligated to them for what they have done. When we honor someone, we make them look good – often at our expense – and that at times is not easy. Who wants to admit their shortcomings or inadequacies?

The Psalmist wrote, “Honor Him for He is your Lord!” Not a very complicated statement. The problem is not understanding the statement that gives so many Christians a problem. It is in applying it. Honoring or bowing down before God is difficult. Pride gets in the way and becomes a problem for many.

Pride is what keeps us from serving Him and loving others as Jesus loved them. Pride is what keeps us from being submissive to Him when we refuse to serve Him in our churches and witness His saving grace to others who are lost and dying.

Prayer: Lord, give us a desire to become humble and honor You. Remove pride from our hearts and replace it with humility. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 45:11 Let the king be enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord.

Devotional for 9-14-2017

A KING FOR GOD’S KINGDOM?

A leading scientist at a convention of scientists was asked, “Is there anyone anywhere whom you know who could solve all of the problems of illness and famine, poverty and killing?”

“Indeed I do,” came his quick reply.

Astonished, the chairman of the committee asked, “Who?”

“A King!” came the quick, confident response.

In utter disbelief the chairman replied, “A king? Where can we find such a king? Where has he been hiding?”

“Oh, He is not hiding,” replied the scientist. “He has made Himself well known. It is just that people refuse to recognize Him. You see, this Man is incapable of making any mistakes, knows the power of healing – both physical healing and mental healing and He knows how to feed thousands and have food left over to feed many more. He can also take care of those without water and solve other problems that people bring to him.”

In disbelief, the chairman asked, “Who is this person you have described and where can we find him?”

“You can find Him in the Bible. He is known as Jesus. In His life on earth He did all of the things I have mentioned. And He is capable of doing many more miraculous things,” he said.

The audience was stunned as the scientist took his seat.

The Psalmist wrote, “Your throne, O God, will last forever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of Your Kingdom.” The “throne” described in this Psalm is Christ’s throne in heaven and will last through eternity. From this throne He will rule the world in love, justice and righteousness – and all problems will finally be solved.

Prayer: Father, we look forward to that day of days when You will rule the world with Your peace that passes all understanding. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 45:6 Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom.

Devotional for 9-13-2017

BEAUTIFUL SAVIOR

It was his first day in art class. Mark was determined to draw a portrait of Jesus. He began one drawing and then another. After trying time and time again, he decided to place his pallet and brushes on his stool and in defeat walked away from his canvas.

Noticing his despair, his teacher walked to him and asked, “Mark, what is your difficulty?”

“It’s no use,” he said. “I was determined to draw a picture of Jesus. But it’s useless!”

“Why?” asked his teacher.

“Because I cannot make Him beautiful enough,” he said.

Mark echoed the words of the Psalmist: “You are the most excellent of men!”

Years ago someone wrote, “All other men who were recognized as great have been made to look insignificant by what Jesus did in His brief lifetime. All others who were considered wise appear inadequate in their expression of truth when compared to Him. All others who labor to bring healing to the sick cannot match His miracles. All others who attempt to do good for mankind cannot match His deeds of compassion and expressions of concern for the weak and lonely. Those who appear to be perfect eventually show their flaws. There is only One who has ever walked on this planet who deserves the title: ‘You are the most excellent of men.’”

And this “most excellent example of men,” God’s Only Son, lived a sinless and perfect life so that He could become our Redeemer and Savior. There are many ways we can look at Him, but only one way that truly matters: “For the Son of Man came to seek and save.” How do you see Him?

Prayer: We stand in awe, Father, for the beauty we see in Your Son. May His beauty be seen in our lives as we reflect His love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 45:2 You are the most excellent of men and your lips have been anointed with grace, since God has blessed you forever.

Devotional for 9-12-2017

RECOGNIZING REALITY

“People do not learn from mistakes,” said the professor. The class was confused. Most of them had been taught all of their lives that the best way to learn was from one’s mistakes.

As he looked into their puzzled faces, he continued his lecture by asking a question, “How many of you have made the same mistake twice?” Hands went up all over the classroom. “That is precisely my point. If we learned from our mistakes, we would never make the same mistake twice. We seem to learn best when someone provides us feedback. We are not honest enough with ourselves to point out our own mistakes or failures. We do not want to admit them – especially to ourselves even if we recognize them.”

The author of this Psalm recalled two important facts: When the Israelites acknowledged God as their leader and followed Him, they were victorious. “Our fathers advised us,” they said, “that it was not our swords or plans that brought victory.” God spoke to them and they realized what brought about their defeat: they trusted in their own strength! It was their defeat that caused them to be open to God’s “feedback.”

When “we pushed back our enemies in Your name,” he continued, “we trampled on our foes!” What a testimony to the power and victory that is available to us through our God!

Like Israel, we must come to the same conclusion and make the same confession with the same amount of conviction: “In Your name, Heavenly Father, we can trample on our foes.” When we read God’s Word and use it as a standard for our lives He will give us His “feedback” and provide a path for us to renew our relationship with Him. If we allow His Word to do its work, we will discover our failings and can call on Him for His grace and forgiveness and restoration.

Prayer: We pray, Almighty Lord, for a willingness to realize that apart from You there is nor will ever be any victory over our foes. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 44:5 Through you we push back our enemies; through your name we trample our foes.

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