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AGING IN GOD’S GRACE
Watching children grow into adulthood can be a marvelous experience. From crawling to walking, from uttering sounds that make no sense to carrying on an intelligent conversation is almost breathtaking. Growth is a gift of God and can bring blessings and happiness – especially when we grow into the likeness of Christ and share His grace with those around us.
The Amplified Bible provides a rich translation of Psalm 92:14. “Growing in grace,” writes the Psalmist, “they shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be full of spiritual vitality and rich in expressing trust, love and contentment.”
Growth, for the Christian, is a lifelong journey. And those who grow in His grace and are filled with His mercy have much to live for and share with others. Imagine the satisfaction of having lived a life that honors God’s Word, lives God’s gospel and expresses His love. Can there be anything more important for the Christian than becoming stronger in our faith, clearer in our convictions, warmer in our love, purer in our thoughts and kinder in our words and deeds as we grow older and more mature in Christ?
We live in a broken world. Everywhere we look, we see people who have been betrayed by those whom they dearly loved and trusted. We see people writhing in pain and anguish as they search for someone to offer them hope and encouragement. We dare not let them down.
What a wonderful opportunity God has given us.
Prayer: Help us, Heavenly Father, to see the world as You see it and work with You to share Your love and grace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 92:14 They shall still bear fruit in old age; They shall be fresh and flourishing,
FLOURISH LIKE A PALM TREE
The word “righteous” in Scripture carries with it the idea of meeting God’s standards of doing what it right in the sight of God – being obedient to Him and being just and fair to others. If the “righteous are to flourish like palm trees” what does that mean?
1. Palm trees grow straight up – always looking upward to heaven for light and nourishment. Likewise the Christian looks to God to find His will for their life.
2. Each and every part of a palm tree is useful. The leaves not only provide shelter from the elements but the tree itself has many nourishing and medicinal qualities. The Christian is expected to give life and hope and nourishment to others.
3. Palm trees are not affected by drought. A palm tree is not affected by the weather and can survive nearly every surface injury. The Christian rooted in Christ draws his strength and well-being from God.
4. The palm tree is an evergreen tree because it draws its life flow within its being, keeping it fresh.
5. The palm tree cannot be grafted into any other tree because it has its own unique identity. Christians have one Master and cannot be grafted to any other identity.
6. Palm trees are an emblem of victory. This was seen when Jesus entered triumphantly into Jerusalem.
7. Palm trees always show a place where water can be found. Christians find their “living water” in Christ who can quench their thirst.
Prayer: We ask, Father, that every part of our lives will be useful in proclaiming Your grace and mercy to others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 92:12 The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
A REASON TO BE GLAD
The word glad in Scripture carries with it the idea of happiness and joyfulness, pleasure and freedom. In God’s Word, however, there is a source for this gladness: it is the Lord. The Psalmist writes, “For You make me glad by Your deeds, O Lord; I sing for joy at the works of your hands.”
This source for our gladness does not come from anything we have accomplished or any ladder of success that we might have climbed. It does not come from wealth that we may have accumulated or records we have set. It does not come from any amount of power we have because of our achievements. This gladness that the Psalmist writes about comes from what God has done for us.
Another Psalmist wrote, “But may all who search for You be filled with joy and gladness. May those who love Your salvation repeatedly shout, ‘The Lord is great.’” And another Psalmist said, “Let the godly rejoice. Let them be glad in God’s presence.”
We often set “goals” for ourselves that we think will bring a sense of well-being and fulfillment to us. They come from the “if only” statements we make: “If only I can get a promotion I will be satisfied,” or “If only I had a larger home our family will be happy,” or “If only….” and the list goes on.
But the “glad” that comes from God that can fill our hearts and lives comes as a result of what He has done for us: made possible our salvation through Jesus Christ, His Son and our Savior. Because of Him we can be glad and sing for joy, we can know that “all things are working together” for our good and His glory.
Prayer: How thankful we are, Lord, that we can have hearts filled with gladness because of Your love and grace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 92:4 For You, Lord, have made me glad through Your work; I will triumph in the works of Your hands.
“DAILY PLANNING GUIDE”
Nearly all of us have some method for planning our daily activities. With no plan to follow, our time will likely be wasted and our days meaningless. Often, however, our carefully detailed plans can be completely disrupted by an emergency or unexpected demand. In Psalm 92, however, we find a simple way to open and close each day and bring God’s presence into our lives.
The Psalmist suggests that we begin the day with a “proclamation” – we are to “proclaim the love of God.” If we begin each day by proclaiming the love that God has for us, it will remind us that we are safe and secure in His love and that nothing or no one can destroy us. Then, as the day unfolds and when the unexpected occurs and things seem upside down, we can know that He is holding us close to Himself and that He will protect us from that which might harm us. It is in His love that we are safe and secure. As Paul wrote, “Nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” It is His love that keeps us close to Him and no one or nothing can break this bond that comes from Him.
As we end each day, we are advised to praise God for His faithfulness. Indeed, by His grace He has brought us through another day and He has proven Himself to be trustworthy. Even when tragedy strikes or the light of His presence is dim, we have the assurance that He is with us.
If “things” look bad today, we can always look back at our “yesterdays” and see God at work in our lives and praise Him for His trustworthiness and faithfulness.
Prayer: Thank You, Father, for all You have done for us. May we always be aware of Your love and faithfulness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 92:2 To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning, And Your faithfulness every night,
A Roman soldier once asked his superior for the privilege of speaking to Julius Caesar. His request was granted and when he approached Caesar, he pled for permission to end his life. Looking at the man who stood before him the general saw a man who led a wretched and worthless life. After a moment’s thought Caesar said to him in disgust, “Man, were you ever alive?”
God intended for each of us to enjoy a life that has meaning and is fulfilling and satisfying. Man, created in the image of God, is to do the things of God and bring honor to our creator. Without God at the core of our life we will be, as the soldier was, living a wretched, worthless life.
The last verse of Psalm 91 presents a picture of a person who has God at the core of his or her life. It tells us that the goal of this God-centered person is to satisfy God – to live a life that can be blessed by, empowered by and honored by God Himself.
Recently I asked a student to share with the class what Romans 6:23 meant to him. Standing before us he said, “Let me tell you about this verse. For me it reads, ‘The wages of sin is an empty life.’ I know because I’ve been there, worked hard and felt like my needle was on empty. It did not matter how successful my life appeared to be to those around me, it did not matter how much land I owned or how many houses I had or how much money I earned. My life was on ‘empty’ because I could never fill it with enough things for the needle to move to ‘full.’”
Prayer: We ask You, Father, to help us live lives that are pleasing to You, knowing that if we do we will be satisfied. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 91:16 With long life I will satisfy him, And show him My salvation.”
“TOO BIG FOR ME, DAD”
Young Timothy was helping his Dad clear a lot next to their home for a garden. Things went well until Tim ran into a large stone that he couldn’t budge. After struggling for a few moments he called to his Dad and said, “Dad, this one is too big for me to handle. What should I do?”
“Well,” said his Dad wanting him to learn a lesson, “what have you tried to do?”
“I’ve pulled on it with both hands,” he said looking down at the stone. “And I’ve tried to pull it with a hoe, too, but that didn’t work either.”
“Sounds like you’ve tried to move it with all the strength that’s within you,” his Dad said patiently.
“Sure have, Dad. There’s nothing else for me to do but up give up on it,” he said with discouragement.
“Give up, son? Why would you give up?” he asked.
“There’s nothing else to I can do,” said Tim.
“Oh, but there is. You can always call on me to help you, Son,” he said with compassion.
Often God allows us to realize how weak we are without Him. We struggle and fail. We try and give up. We worry and become depressed. We think and realize that many things are beyond us. We practice and still make mistakes. We work and still can’t make ends meet.
Then suddenly we realize that God has put a “gap” between us and the solution to our problem. It’s His way of saying, “You can always call on me for help. And when you do, I will answer you and I will be with you and strengthen you!”
Prayer: We thank You, Lord, for being just a “prayer away” whenever we need Your help. We are truly grateful. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 91:15 He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him.
WHY LOVE GOD?
There is nothing more precious than the “hug” of a child when it is given to us without our asking for it. It is so innocent and undefiled. It is given voluntarily with nothing expected in return. It is an expression of “thanks” for something we may have done that we can no longer remember. It is given freely, honestly, openly and joyfully because the child has no other way to express its feelings.
“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him.” The word love in this verse carries with it the idea of being hugged. In other words, God not only loves us by what He says, but by what He does. So, says the Psalmist, “He hugs us” – keeps us as close to Himself as He possibly can.
When God rescues us from sin and graciously and generously provides us with His salvation, we receive an eightfold blessing. After He rescues us, we have:
His protection: We are not exempt from difficulties but are assured of His presence and grace when they come.
He knows us by name: He recognizes us as unique individuals with a plan from Him for our lives.
He will hear us when we call upon Him and give us His solution for our problems.
He will be with us and deliver us when we are surrounded by life’s troubles.
He will honor us when we honor Him.
He will satisfy our needs as long as we live and when our life is over join Him in heaven.
Prayer: Help us, Lord, to love You as much as You love us – to love You with all of our hearts and minds and souls. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 91:14 “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name.
“Check on me” was a familiar request that we heard every night as our youngest son, Byron, began walking to his bedroom. Even though we took every precaution to make certain that our home was safe from any threat or danger, there was nothing more comforting than a nightly visit before the lights were turned off. Knowing that someone was near by and readily available if an emergency arose made falling asleep much easier.
The need to know that we are safe and secure is important to each of us. Stripes divide streets and signs give important instructions to drivers. A checklist must be completed before an aircraft can take flight. Warnings about possible problems surround us wherever we go or whatever we do. Sometimes they seem to get in the way of life. But warnings are important to warn us of impending dangers.
Psalm 91 reminds us of the unpredictability, yet the certainty, of dangers that await us. But it does not do so to frighten us, but to give the assurance that we are safe at all times and in all situations because of the faithfulness of our God. Listen as the Psalmist assures of the safety and security we have in God: “You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that strikes at midday…if you make the Most High your dwelling!”
How gracious of our God to assure us that we do not need to ask Him to “check on us” – He does it constantly.
Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for the promise of Your protection that gives us peace, security and hope. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 91:5-6 You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, Nor of the arrow that flies by day, Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.
A RELIABLE REFUGE
The recent tornados that have wreaked havoc across the central United States have been devastating. The loss of loved ones, the scope of injuries that will take years to overcome, the destruction of homes and businesses, the feelings of grief and hopelessness that grasped individuals as they sorted through piles of rubbish that at one time represented their entire life is beyond understanding.
In the midst of these great tragedies, however, were the stories and pictures of some who were prepared for such an event. From past encounters with powerful winds and driving rain and hail storms were those who came to the conclusion that preparation for such a time was a top priority. They were the ones who built sturdy shelters beneath the ground where they were sure to be safe. They did not trust their lives to fate or chance. They recognized their need to prepare for the assaults of life.
The author of Psalm 91 spoke of the need we have to prepare for the assaults of life. “He,” wrote the author, “will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge.”
While storm shelters can protect us from wind and rain, flying objects and falling buildings, only God can protect us from the destructive forces of sin. In Him we have the assurance that He will meet all of our needs – spiritual, emotional and physical – every day of our lives. And through Him we have His promise that He will give us His power and strength, presence and protection to overcome the attacks of the devil.
Prayer: Our hearts rejoice, Father, to know that we can dwell safely “under Your wings” and take refuge in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 91:4 He shall cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.
IN AND THROUGH – BUT NOT FROM
It was the middle of the night when the nurse entered my hospital room to take my “vital signs.” With quiet confidence she went through her routine reading and recording various numbers.
As she was about to leave my room she stopped and said, “I’m sorry that I had to awaken you.”
“Oh, you didn’t awaken me,” I replied. “Somehow I can’t fall asleep tonight.”
“Well, have you been saying the Lord’s prayer?” she asked. “You know you’ll do much better praying the Lord’s Prayer than counting all those sheep people talk about. And besides, sheep don’t count anyway. Only the Lord does.”
As the door closed behind her, I began to recite the Lord’s Prayer. When I got to the phrase “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” a sense of peace swept over me. As I reflected on those two words – “your will” – God spoke to me and said, “You know, I never said that you would be spared from the pain and suffering of life. Only that I would be with you and guard you in and through your life’s journey and ‘deliver you from the snare of the fowler.’” In His will we are always safe and secure.
Often the “snares” of the “fowler” appear when we least expect them. Satan would encourage us to doubt God’s capabilities or care, His concern or compassion. Certainly the devil would be delighted if we came to the conclusion that our problems are beyond God’s power. Surely he would want us to believe that God has favorites and we are just beyond His grace. But not so! God will protect His own!
Prayer: We thank You, Lord, for the assurance we have knowing that if You are for us, no one can destroy us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 91:3 Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler And from the perilous pestilence.