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Devotional for 8-20-2018

UNENDING MERCY

One of the greatest attractions in all of America is Yellowstone National Park. There are over two hundred active geysers in the park, but Old Faithful is the best known and most visited. It is famous because it is so predictable in its “activity” of shooting streams of water high into the air.

No one knows when it began, but it was first discovered in 1870. The silvery cascades of water shoot out of the geyser about every sixty-five minutes every day of the year.

The ancient Hebrews and present-day Christians see in the faithfulness of this geyser the unending, timeless and inexhaustible mercy of God. Since the fall of man, there has not been one moment when God did not have man’s need for redemption in the center of His heart. And, this need for our redemption springs upward and outward from God’s unlimited mercy every moment of every day – much like the dependability of Old Faithful.

The “mercy” of God is an everlasting expression of His divine compassion. This “mercy” of God is a statement of the undeserving love that He has for us by withholding His judgment on us for our sins. We are reminded of His immeasurable love whenever we pause and think of His Son coming to earth to die on a cross for our sins. God’s mercy is “God at work” helping and healing, protecting and providing, strengthening us sustaining us each day and saving us from death and destruction.

Give thanks to the Lord! His mercy is never ending!

Prayer: We lift grateful hearts to You, Lord, for mercy we do not deserve yet desperately need for our salvation. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 136:26 Give thanks to the God of heaven. His faithful love endures forever.

Devotional for 8-19-2018

ALWAYS ON HIS MIND

Mrs. Hattie Hollowell is known as “The Forgotten Woman of New York City.” She spent three years, four months and sixteen days in jail without a member of her family, a friend or an attorney visiting her.

When she was finally “discovered,” an investigation revealed that she had never been brought to trial. Instead of being helped, she was forgotten and ignored by “the system.” When she finally was discovered, the legal machinery moved swiftly to release her.

Others may forget and ignore us, but not the Lord. In Psalm 136:23 we read, “He remembered us in our low estate and weaknesses. His faithful love endures forever.”

One day Jesus was teaching a group of followers. He wanted to get them involved in his lesson, so He asked, “What is the price of five sparrows?” Then, He answered his question by saying, “A couple of pennies? Not much more than that.” He continued, “And yet God does not forget a single one of them. And He even knows the number of hairs on your head. In fact, He knows all about you – your weaknesses, your wants, and even your worries. And never forget that He cares for every one of you!”

If a little bird is the object of His love, how much more does He love each one of us, no matter who or what or where we are. We may be forsaken by our family and friends, but not the Lord. He remembers us in our “low estate,” and His faithful love endures forever.

Jesus promised, “Remember, I am always with you!”

Prayer: We thank You, Father, for the promise of Your presence and the fact that Your love for us will never end. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 136:23 He remembered us in our low estate and weaknesses. His faithful love endures forever. 

Devotional for 8-18-2018

OUR GOOD AND GREAT GOD

“If God did not exist,” Voltaire once said, “it would be necessary to invent Him.” But we who believe in Him know that He does exist and that He is good, great and glorious! We find these facts in Psalm 135.

The Lord “is good.” And with no reservations. He is not good to us because we are good, or “not good” people who are evil. We are wrong when we say to others, “God will not be good to you if you are not good.” He is good to everyone, and His goodness is never conditioned by what we do or do not do. But, He does punish those who willing do what is wrong.

The Lord “is great.” Some good people are not great, and some great people are not good. But our Lord is as great as He is good. After He created “good things” He created us so that He might impart His goodness to us. It is because of His greatness that He is willing to provide us with a variety of His good things to enjoy and in which to find joy, happiness, and pleasure.

The Lord “is glorious.” Our God is above all “gods.” People began to worship when they realized there was more to “what is” than himself or nature. But God revealed Himself to man and man discovered the ever-living, ever-loving, and everlasting God. But, unfortunately, that was not enough, and people continued to “create” gods of their own making – whether a piece of stone in Africa, a piece of gold in America, a bushy god in the jungles, or a mental god in academia.

How great is our God! A God who is great and good and glorious – yet in spite of all that He is, He loves us.

Prayer: Thank You, Father, for Your unending love and desire to reveal Yourself to us. Fill our hearts with awe. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 135:3a & 5a Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good. I know the greatness of the Lord. 

Devotional for 8-17-2018

FINDING SATISFACTION

Satisfaction is an elusive goal. Although it is high on most people’s agendas, few ever find it without a struggle. Perhaps it is because most people overlook satisfaction as spiritual need and try to find it in the material things of life.

Satisfaction cannot be found in material things. Those who seek satisfaction from the material world never have “enough” of anything – whether it is money, education, property or power. “More” does not fill any need. It simply generates the desire for “more.”

David addressed this issue in Psalm 131. “Lord,” he realized, “my heart is not proud; my eyes are not haughty. I don’t concern myself with matters that are too great or too awesome for me to grasp.” What a remarkable statement: he had the wisdom and insight to “think small.”

It is interesting to note that David willingly took a step backward to take a step forward – “my heart is not proud.” To move to the “higher ground” in life, we must begin with an attitude of humility. A proud heart comes from thinking of ourselves “more highly that we ought to.” But humility, on the other hand, puts us in a place where God can reach us and bless us with the good things He has to offer us.

And notice what he said about being too ambitious: “I’m not going to get involved with matters that are too great or too awesome.” He made a conscious decision to focus on what was within his power and potential to achieve. He was willing to be content with the gifts God had for him. And, God granted those gifts.

Prayer: Lord, help us to take our eyes off of the “things” of this world and find all that we need in honoring You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 131:1 Lord, my heart is not proud; my eyes are not haughty. I don’t concern myself with matters that are too great or too awesome for me to grasp. 

Devotional for 8-16-2018

LOOKING FOR HOPE?

His professors and fellow students recognized him as one of the most brilliant students on campus. He had “the most” when it came to worldly goods. From any vantage point, he seemed to “have it all.”

Early one morning while the campus was wrapped in silence, he jumped to his death from his room in the dorm. As his family went through the items left behind, they discovered a note that read, “There is utterly no hope!”

Hopelessness has many causes and few cures. Many, searching for some form of hope, turn to alcohol or other drugs. Others lose themselves in their work or search anxiously for a way out of their despair. Many seek relief by trying new experiences or adventures. Few, however, discover long-lasting results.

Hopelessness may come from unmet expectations, sorrow or grief. We all seem to want a life without a “pile of problems.” No one looks for tragedies as a form of entertainment. And, we rarely have an opportunity to “pick our pain.” Problems and pain, sorrow and grief, are as much a part of life as sunshine or rain, night or day.

Is there a sure source where everyone can find hope? The Psalmist believes there is. “…hope in the Lord; for with the Lord, there is unfailing love. His redemption overflows.”

Hoping is different from wishing. Wishing is a desire for something we don’t have. Hope, on the other hand, is a gift from God and will give us confidence that He is with us and will fulfill every promise He has ever made. Hope will protect us and empower us to meet the dangers and disappointments of life.

Prayer: Lord, as long as we have You we have hope and know that Your unfailing love will guide us and guard us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 130:7 …hope in the Lord; for with the Lord, there is unfailing love. His redemption overflows. 

Devotional for 8-15-2018

WAITING WITHOUT WORRYING

Fishing often seems futile and foolish. There may be long periods of time when the only progress is the movement of the hands on a clock. While some would say it is a great way to relax and think, others would say it is ridiculous and unjustifiable in this fast-paced world.

And, there are many who consider prayer the same way. Why wait for the Lord to hear our prayers when we can get by on our own? The Psalmist gave us a good reason to wait: “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in His Word I put my hope.”

Some claim that waiting on the Lord is profitable and productive. Others say it is the best way to become efficient and effective. Really?

The person who does not wait on the Lord may be going places – but they may not be the right places. Often we move forward in haste and end up in a place other than what we had in mind. Often the consequences of rushing ahead of God results in destroying the plan He has laid out for us. Do you remember the wise bumper sticker that read, “Don’t follow me. I’m lost.”?

Waiting on the Lord is the way to empowerment. Not waiting on the Lord may lead to exhaustion. Our Lord is adequate to meet our every need, but there are times when we must wait on Him for whatever our need may be. We must wait on Him if we want His goodness and guidance, His wisdom and wealth, His healing and happiness.

The Psalmist said, “In His Word, I put my hope.” In Hebrews we are reminded that “We have this hope as an anchor.”

Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for reminding us of our need to place our hope in You. Grant us the gift of trust. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 130:5 I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in His Word I put my hope.

Devotional for 8-14-2018

MERCY WITHOUT MEASURE

Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were the first spies ever to be executed for conspiracy to commit espionage for giving information about the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union. As a result of their conviction, they were put to death in the electric chair in Sing Sing Prison, New York.

In his summation at the end of the grueling and bitter trial, the lawyer of the Rosenbergs said with deep emotion, “Your Honor, what my clients ask for is justice.”

“The court has given what you have asked for – justice!” replied Judge Irving Kaufman. “What you really wanted is mercy. But that is something that this court has no right to give.”

This response from the judge has a scriptural bearing: no one is good – no one in all the world. Every one of us has sinned. If God gave us justice, each one of us would have our place in hell – separated from God forever.

We are reminded of this fact in Psalm 130:3 where we read, “If You, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? “ He then answers it with a gracious promise that brings the peace of God: “But with You there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve You.”

If God kept a record of our sins – or if He held a grudge against us – we could say that He purposefully built a barrier between Himself and us so that we would be separated from Him forever.

But, He did not do that. He sent His one and only begotten Son to be our one and only Savior. Now, we have access to Him, when we repent because of His mercy.

Prayer: Thank You, Father, for Your willingness to forgive us of our sins and grant us Your love and salvation. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 130:3-4 If You, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? But with You there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve You.

Devotional for 8-13-2018

WHAT TO DO WHEN…

What’s the best thing to do when life comes crashing in?

He had worked many years to reform the church. It seemed that everyone and everything had turned against him, and he had no place to run. In desperation and despair, he turned to a fellow servant and said, “Come, let us sing Psalm 130.” Soon their deep dedication to God replaced their despair and desperation when they sang, “Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord; Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.”

Who among us has not experienced the desperation that comes from being betrayed and abandoned? Most of us, at one time or another, have cried, “Who cares for me? Everyone belongs to a ‘we’ except me.” It is then that we need to call on Jesus who said, “Come to me – all of you who have hearts that are deeply troubled and who have burdens that are too heavy for you to carry by yourself. I’m the only One who is always there for you!”

All of us have been overwhelmed when the treasures of life are snatched from our hands. Handel, the master musician, lost his health. Soon after that, his right side became paralyzed. Then, he lost his money. He was so discouraged that he wanted to give up on life. But he cried to God and from this hopeless condition penned The Messiah which ends with the Hallelujah Chorus.

And there is the depth of sin. It lowers us, limits us, and never lifts us. But God will do that for us through His Son, who wants to be our Savior – even Christ the Lord.

Prayer: Father, help us never to give up on You even though all seems lost. Hear our voice when we call on You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 130:1 Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord; Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.

Devotional for 8-12-2018

SUNSHINE AND STORMS

“What’s that, Daddy?” asked his son, Ben.

“A rainbow,” responded his father.

“What’s a rainbow, Daddy?” was his next question.

“Well, Ben, a rainbow is a promise from God that He loves us and will always care for us,” replied Ben’s dad.

What a comforting answer for us to think about when we face troubling times. The beauty and brilliance of the colors found in a rainbow are a result of “reflections and refractions” of the sun’s rays as they “light-up” the drops of rain that fall from the sky after the storm passes over us. But without the storm, there would be no rainbow.

We only see rainbows when the sun is behind us, and the rain is falling in front of us. As the rays of the sun pass through a drop of rain, it is “bent” – or refracted – and separated into the different colors that light up the sky. What we see is a brilliant display of colors produced in the countless drops of rain that fall in front of the sun.

All of us have experienced many drops of rain falling on our paths and into our lives. But, God’s love shines through each of them as the sun shines through the drops of rain that fall from the sky. It is the glow of His love that shines through the tears of grief, pain, hurt and suffering that fall from our eyes and brings us His comfort.

No one has lived a “tear-free life.” And, all of us have been caught up in the “storms of life!” Yet, we have survived. The Psalmist wrote, “They have greatly oppressed me from my youth, but have not gained the victory over me.” Storms and tears come and go, but God’s love always surrounds us.

Prayer: Thank You, Father, for the assurance of Your love. May we look to You for healing when others harm us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 129:2 They have greatly oppressed me from my youth, but have not gained the victory over me.

Devotional for 8-11-2018

HOW TO FIND HAPPINESS

“Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” is one of the most familiar phrases in the Constitution of the United States. Although no one is guaranteed that they will find happiness, the right to seek happiness is one of the main declarations found in our Constitution.

Many “things” we read and hear promise us some form of “happiness” at a distance. What if we taste and experience what we have been promised will bring us a state of happiness, but it is empty and vain, worthless and a waste of time? What then are we to do?

A Psalmist gave us a “formula” for happiness. He declared with enthusiasm, “Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in obedience to Him, You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours!” Certainly God’s promise for being blessed – or happy – far exceeds whatever promise any man or group of men could guarantee. And, they work!

The happiness that God guarantees is for those who fear and follow Him. It is not a fear of being terrorized by a vengeful God – but a fear that results in reverential awe and worship of a God who loves them and wants their best. It is a fear that establishes a trust in Him that “without Him, I can do nothing that is worthwhile.” But, with Him, I can do all things well! So, I will rely on Him for everything!”

A fear of forsaking God and not following Him and His ways will create a dependency upon Him for all things in our life. If we do that, we will find His happiness!

Prayer: God, grant us the willingness to admit that true happiness is a gift and is found only in Your grace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 128:1, 2 Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in obedience to Him, You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours! 

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