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Devotional for 1-22-2019

WHY GOD FORGIVES

One of the most agonizing questions all children ask comes in one word: Why?

That endless, searching, penetrating, obnoxious, and even threatening question sometimes causes controversy, other times resentment, and even – would you believe it – anger.

Most of us do not enjoy having to give a reason for what we do or say. It disturbs our peace of mind and forces us to clarify our words or deeds. Many times it is a good question for the same reasons it is a disturbing question: we have to examine and explain things we had done in the past simply without thinking about or even taking time to evaluate them.

Although David did not ask the “why” question, he did answer it without thinking about it. “Why” would God forgive him? His love. And then he answered another “why” question without asking “why” – because our God is a “good” God.

“Why would You forgive me God?” As I understand it, God, it is according to, or consistent with the fact that You love me. “Thank You for Your love God.”

“But then, God, why would You love me when the sin I committed is horrible even in my own eyes?” And God answered, “Because I am good, David.”

“Love” and “good” are two simple facts about the very character of God. But, they also go together. If God is love, He also has to be good. Otherwise, His love could be selective. But because He is good, His love is for all of us.

Prayer: Thank You, Father, for a love that does not depend on anything except the fact that You are good. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Psalm 25:7b According to Your love, remember me for You are good, O Lord. 

Devotional for 1-21-2019

MOVING ON

There is a story of a patient in a mental institution who sits alone and looks longingly out the window. Every now and then he wistfully moans, “If only I had…” And his voice trails off as his mind recalls a past event.

At one time he was a brakeman on a freight train. On a bitterly cold night, he decided not to light his lantern and leave the warmth of his caboose to warn an oncoming train that his train had stopped to reload its coal car. He had been at this particular place before and could not remember if there were any trains that needed a warning.

Unfortunately, an oncoming train did not see his caboose and crashed into it leaving three of his friends dead. He escaped with severe bodily injuries that healed, but, mentally he could not escape the scene. Whenever his mind recalled the event, he would say, “If only I had…”

Many of us have memories that have left scars we wish we could erase. David had one. He traded a peaceful mind for a moment of pleasure that left him overwhelmed with grief. Finally, he cried out, “Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways. According to Your love, remember me for You are good, O Lord.”

Was that prayer answered? Indeed. “When we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us.” And He also promises, “Their sins and iniquities I will remember no more.”

There is no sin beyond God’s forgiveness! And, no forgiveness without asking!

Prayer: Lord, we accept Your forgiveness and cleansing. But may we never forget that they cost You Your life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Psalm 25:7 Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways. According to Your love, remember me for You are good, O Lord. 

Devotional for 1-20-2019

HIS WAYS ARE THE RIGHT WAYS

Whenever we have a box delivered to our home that says, “Instructions Inside,” I immediately take it to my wife. It doesn’t matter if it is large or small or somewhere in between, I know exactly what to do with it. If it needs to be “put together,” or is “in pieces,” it’s beyond the skills and talents that God gave me. It’s another example of God’s grace: He graciously brought her to me to make up for many of my deficiencies.

That’s the way God is. Whatever we lack, whatever we need, whatever is beyond us is always available to us through His grace and guidance. With God’s Spirit within us and the fact that His Word is sufficient for us, we must then submit to Him, follow Him and depend on Him. We cannot do what He has for us to do without Him!

God knows our strength and limitations, our skills and talents. He is anxious for us to grow into the likeness of His Son, Jesus Christ. So, it is important for us to look to Him, depend on Him and follow Him because life is too difficult without Him. We often mislead ourselves if we do not recognize “where we are and where God wants us to be.” That’s why David reminded us that we need God to “show us His ways.” Like it or not, we must admit that it is too easy to confuse our ways with His ways and not accomplish His purpose for our lives or know how we can serve others.

God can only guide whom He governs. When we allow Him “to show us and teach us,” He can then lead us in the path He has laid out for us.

Prayer: Father, Your ways are perfect ways. May we willingly accept them as we submit to Your leadership. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Psalm 25:7 Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways. According to Your love, remember me for You are good, O Lord. 

Devotional for 1-19-2019

WHAT’S WORTHY OF OUR TRUST?

A small child needed a minor operation but was allergic to anesthetics. The surgeon knew the procedure would be painful, but not unbearable. So, he took a shiny silver dollar from his pocket and said, “This is for you. I’m going to hurt you a little bit. I want you to take a good look at it and hold it really tight in your right hand. Be sure to remember what you saw while I’m at work, because I’m going to ask you what it was when I’m finished. If you do, it won’t hurt you as much.”

When he finished, he gently rubbed her forehead and said, “You are a brave little girl. What did you think about?”

Quickly she replied, “The words, ‘In God we trust.’” In Psalm 25:2, David wrote, “In You, I trust, O my God.” Why would a king need to trust God?

First, for pardon. Later in the Psalm he wrote, “Forgive my iniquity, for it is great.” Our relationship with God begins when we ask Him to cleanse us from sin and all unrighteousness so we may enter into His presence. David knew the importance of being rightly related to God.

Second, for peace. “Free me from my anguish,” he prayed. Fear is the natural reaction when we are filled with anxiety. Only God can fill our hearts and calm our souls.

Finally, for protection. “Guard my life and rescue me,” he plead. As a warrior, he knew the threats and dangers of war. He knew that only One could keep him safe in dangerous situations. So, he trusted in that One alone.

Prayer: Lord, we have all that we need in You. May we lift our hearts in prayer and praise You for Your presence. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Psalm 25:2a In You, I trust, O my God. 

Devotional for 1-18-2019

CLEAN – IT MEANS WHAT IT MEANS

“Son,” said Fred’s mother, “dinner is ready, and you haven’t washed your hands. They are dirty!”

“They’re not dirty,” he protested, “just a little bit soiled.”

According to Psalm 24, there’s no difference between dirty and soiled. Only those who have clean hands and a pure heart are invited to worship God. So, what does the Psalmist mean when he talks about “clean hands?”

“Clean hands” literally means “clean habits.” Habits are formed over time and are rarely noticed until they draw attention to themselves in one way or another. A habit may be good or bad, depending on its outcome. If it leads to a self-nourishing behavior or something that leads to wellness or well-being, it is a good habit. But if it is a toxic behavior and leads to self-destruction or death, it is certainly a bad habit.

“Clean habits” would, of course, begin with a “clean heart.” The Bible is unapologetic when it reminds us “what comes out of us has a home within us.” In other words, God in – God out. If God is not dwelling within us, His “ways” certainly cannot come out of us.

We also need “clean hopes,” because we do not worship the “idols” of this world. If God is not in first place, He may as well be considered as being in last place. Why? Whatever is in first place is what we are indeed worshiping.

And we also need a “clean history” – not making any promises we do not intend to keep. If we say it, we must do it or make restitution – make-up – what it costs the other.

Prayer: Lord, we’re careful not to touch unclean things or allow them to touch us. May we be that way toward sin. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Psalm 24:4a The one who has clean hands and a pure heart.

Devotional for 1-17-2019

WHO OWNS ALL THIS LAND ANYHOW?

A tourist from New York stopped at a filling station to purchase gas after he visited the Grand Canyon. As he was walking inside to purchase a soft drink, he noticed a farmer sitting near the door, slowly rocking back and forth observing the visitors.

“Wow,” said the tourist, “that Grand Canyon is the most wonderful thing I’ve ever seen. It’s so big it leaves me breathless. What do you think of it, sir?” he asked.

“It’d be a horrible place to lose a cow,” he said slowly.

We live among God’s great gifts every day. Sadly, we rarely pause to admire them, or even stop to thank Him. We are surrounded by the marvel of God’s handiwork, yet are not aware of it. Not David. He was continually in awe of God and His creation. On one occasion, overwhelmed at the sight before him, he exclaimed, “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it; the world and all who dwell in it.”

Looking at the way David’s thought unfolds, he is calling our attention to the fact that whatever we think we own or possess or have at our disposal, is not ours – it is God’s, and He has entrusted us to be His managers of everything. Everything!

Wherever we look and whatever we see is God’s. We may have a deed to a home or a title to a car or a large portfolio of stocks or an unreasonable amount of cash in a bank. But, we have no control over any of our possessions. With the tick of a clock or the beat of a heart, everything could be gone. “The world and its inhabitants are God’s.”

Prayer: Help us, Father, to realize that everything we think we own is Yours. It’s on loan to us to honor You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Psalm 24:1 The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. 

Devotional for 1-16-2019

WHO’S IN CONTROL?

No matter where we look – within our borders or around the planet – things seem to be spinning out of control. Each day, perhaps even twice a day, a different nation seems to surface, demanding one thing or another. From hostages to ransoms, from earthquakes to floods, from kidnappings to suicide bombings, there is no way to predict what the next crisis will be or where it will occur.

The Psalmist wrote, “Dominion belongs to the Lord, and He rules over the nations.” There are times when it is difficult to believe that he knew what he was writing about. Yet, it has to be true if we are to believe His Word. In the final analysis, if we cannot believe that the Bible is the Word of God, that it is inspired, infallible, and inerrant in its entirety, there is nothing left for us to believe in.

Accepting God at His Word, and accepting His Word as truth, are what makes being a Christian unique. When we put our faith, our love, our time, our energy, and our finances into serving Him, we are not only preparing for our eternity with Him, we are, in another way, actually beginning our eternity now because we are building His Kingdom on earth at this very moment.

If we look at what Jesus did and think about what He has challenged and charged us to do, we can, if we choose to, do many of the things He did. We can feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, extend a hand to lift the fallen, share our clothes with the naked, encourage the hopeless, and give help to the sick. If we do as He did, we are working with Him to establish His rule now.

Prayer: Father, may we accept our responsibility to work with You to begin Your reign as Lord over all. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Psalm 22:28 Dominion belongs to the Lord, and He rules over the nations.

Devotional for 1-15-2019

THE STORY IN HANDS

Hanging above my office chair is a drawing entitled, “Hands.” It was drawn by an artist in Rochester, MI. The “hands” in the drawing are of many different sizes and shapes; some are little, representing small children; some are big, representing adults; some scarred representing hard work or accidents; some appear as though they have never been soiled. The hands in the drawing tell the story about how all hands are different, how important they are, and what they are used for.

The hands of Jesus tell a very important story. He used His hands to hold the tools of a carpenter and turn pieces of wood into useful objects. He used His hands to offer hungry people a piece of bread and fish. He used His hands to hold small children. He used His hands to touch the eyes of the blind and restore their sight. He used His hands to open the ears of the deaf. He used His hands to quiet the raging seas. He used His hands to point people in the direction of the Kingdom of His Father.

He never used His hands to make a fist. He never used His hands to grasp things from others. He never used His hands to point people in the wrong direction. He never used His hands to do anything that was evil. He never used His hands to strike others. He never used His hands to push people away from Him.

One fateful day those hands were pierced and nailed to a cross. Pierced but not closed. His hands were on the end of arms that were reaching out to a lost and dying world.
The Psalmist wrote, “They pierce my hands.” Now, we know why.

Prayer: Thank You, Father, for loving us, for reaching out to us with hands that were pierced because of our sins. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Psalm 22:16c They pierce my hands and my feet.

Devotional for 1-14-2019

IT DEPENDS ON THE NAME

Albert’s dad thought it was time he understood how to write checks. So, he took him to the bank, withdrew his checkbook from his coat pocket and said, “Son, I want you to learn how to cash checks today.”

He then filled out the “blank” check and explained every step to Albert. When he finished, he said, “Now, I’m going to go to the cashier and give her this check, and she will give me the amount of money I am going to withdraw. There’s a rather long line waiting for the cashier, so you stay here and wait for me.”

Albert watched others do the same thing: give the cashier a piece of paper and get money in return. Amazed, he decided to do the same with a check from his father’s checkbook.

Very carefully, he completed a check the way his father had taught him. However, when it was his turn at the “window,” the cashier said, “I’m sorry, but your check is no good.”

“But,” Albert protested, “it’s the same as my Dad’s.”

“Not quite,” she responded. “His check has value because his name is on it, and he has money in the bank that we can give him for the check.”

When you think about it, prayer is like going to the bank and exchanging our need for God’s “rewards.” But, unlike a bank, the “rewards” are in God’s name, and He is waiting for us to ask Him to present them to us.

Jesus said, “Ask anything in My Name, and I will do it.” The Psalmist said, “Remember the Name of the Lord.”

Prayer: Heavenly Father, whatever we need is in Your hands. May we “remember” what we have in Your Name. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Psalm 20:7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. 

Devotional for 1-13-2019

BANNER UP!

A young boy was sitting on a bench in a park when a stranger walked by and stopped. Looking at Will and his dog, he asked, “What kind of dog is that, young fella?”

Thinking the man was making fun of his dog, Will responded, “He’s a genuine police dog, Sir!”

Looking at the dog once again, he said, “Police dog? He sure doesn’t look like a police dog to me.”

“Of course not,” said Will. “He’s in the secret service.”

Perhaps that can be said of many Christians: “They are in the Lord’s Secret Service.” They don’t want anyone to know whom they serve.

Strange, isn’t it, that the Christian life begins with a public confession of faith? A declaration that we willingly repent of our sins, and choose to follow the Lord. God’s Word makes it clear that “If we tell others that Jesus Christ is our Lord, and really believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

It’s all rather simple, isn’t it? If we say it, according to God’s Word, we are to do it. On the one hand, it’s easy to profess Jesus in church, but it is quite different to live as He would have us to live in the workplace, the gym, the Parent-Teacher meetings, lunches with business partners, customers, or whomever we don’t see in church on a regular basis. But God’s Word says, “Set up your banners!”

Confession is much more than what Christians say. It is also what a Christian is. Our words are important, but not nearly as significant as what we do – especially when we think no one is looking.

Prayer: Lord, we only fool ourselves if we think we can fool You. May we be witnesses without walls at all times. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Psalm 20:5a May we shout for joy over your victory and lift up our banners in the name of our God. 

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