Each of us has days when we are discouraged, or depressed as we look at the situation around us, or the things we think are coming toward us. If we are not careful, we will become so focused on the troubles around us, that we forget how great our God is. It is good for us to remember all that God has done, and is doing in our lives when these times of discouragement come.
“I will sing unto the LORD as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being. My meditation of Him shall be sweet; I will be glad in the LORD” (Psalm 104:33-34).
Reflection on all that God has done … is encouraging. He has created the world and the universe and holds them together. He placed the sun at the exact distance that is perfect for our good here on the earth. He causes plants to grow to feed us and to sustain us. He continues to cause it to rain to replenish our earth. He does not need my help, and He is bigger than any man/woman on this earth.
Reflection on all that God is … is encouraging. God is love, and because of that, we know the blessings of love in our relationships. God is pure. We don’t need to worry that He will fail to be perfect. It is His character. God is truth. What a great thing to know that whatever He has promised must come to pass. Everything He says He will do will happen exactly as He said it would. God is a Righteous Judge of the world. He will never be fooled on the day of judgment. He is God.
Reflection on all that God will do … is encouraging. God has promised to care for His children. He has promised to care for His sheep. There will never be a day in our lives where God is not paying attention to what we are facing. Be comforted to know that your Heavenly Father is in control of what is going to happen in your life, not some politician, or banker, or doctor, or lawyer. God is the final authority in this world … don’t lose sight of that fact. There are times when the voices that are against God are so loud that if you are not careful you will think they are right. Read these two verses again and remind yourself that your God is still in control.
Today there are many things that might discourage you, or cause you to become depressed. When that happens, don’t go to the psychiatrist, read these verses again. When looking around you discourages you … look up, you will not be discouraged any more. God is still in control!
“He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward them that fear Him” (Psalm 103:10-11).
What incredible promises in these two verses! We all ought to stop what we are doing and thank God for His mercy. If you want a definition of mercy, it is contained here in this verse. Mercy is God not dealing with our sins, or rewarding us (negatively) for what we have done. Instead, He gives us a home in Heaven. There it is in clear print for you and me to see. What a blessing to know the mercy of God on a daily basis! We need His mercy daily. We know from another chapter in the book of Psalms that God’s mercies are new every morning!
Have you ever gone to God and confessed a sin like this … “God, I asked for forgiveness for this yesterday, and I’m back again with the same sin I need to confess?” Unfortunately, I think if we were honest with ourselves, we all have done this at some point(s) in our lives. What an absolute joy to know that we have a God Whose very character is one of mercy.
God is willing to offer mercy to those who fear Him. Knowing this let me ask personal question for each of us to consider … Are we as willing to offer mercy to those who have hurt us? Are we willing to extend love where normally vengeance would be in order? If your God, Who is absolutely pure and holy is willing to offer you mercy (knowing every sin you have ever committed), shouldn’t we offer mercy too?
Let me also point out the depth/height of God’s mercy. Verse eleven says that it is as high as the heavens! That is some infinite mercy. What is the limit of our mercy to others? Are we willing to offer mercy if we think that person will later offer us mercy? Are we willing to offer mercy even if there may be judgment that returns eventually to us? I want to recommend to each one reading this to look for opportunities for mercy today. There are many in the world that are searching for mercy! There are many in your local church that are searching for mercy! Will you resemble God today as you offer mercy, or will you follow this world’s example and be unyielding and ruthless? This is your choice, and will be your responsibility completely. Follow God’s example and thank Him for His mercy today!
Is it possible to live a holy life in our world today? How can I remain pure in an impure world? Is there a special plan that will result in holiness? Is there a roadmap for a holy life? The answer to these questions is that God has given His plan for holiness in our Bible.
“I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness” (Romans 6:19).
You see, holiness, or the lack of holiness is really a choice that each of us makes multiple times every day. We either choose to yield the members (hands, feet, mind, tongue, arms, eyes, etc.) to the world and unholiness; or we yield those members to righteous behavior. Which will you do today? When I was working on getting my driver’s license (many, many years ago), I remember studying the difference between what it meant to YIELD and to MERGE. The simple difference (that I still remember after all those years) is that the person YIELDING will stop and wait for an opening in the traffic on the road they wish to enter. A person MERGING does not slow down, but maintains their speed, blending into the traffic they are joining.
The Word of God urges us to YIELD our members to righteousness. That means that we need to come to a stop and wait for God’s leadership in our decisions today. There will be multiple decisions you and I will make today that will affect not only our own lives, but the lives of those associated with us as well. If we MERGE without slowing down and thinking about it, we will naturally be making decisions that will lead to uncleanness and sin. I want to urge you today to take the time to stop at the Word of God and ask God to show you the “opening” in the paths you are entering today for His righteousness.
There is a possibility for you and me to live holy lives today. If we are going to do that, it will be because we have allowed God to direct our steps (decisions). If we do that, we will see righteous and holy results. If we do not do this, we will see unrighteous and sinful results. It is not easy to live a holy life in an unholy world. Trust God and yield to Him today. He is the only hope you have of living a holy life! Sell out to Him today!
“God will bring out the best in you. The Devil will bring out the worst in you.” – Ted Camp
There was an old saying about a person who was trying to get away with something they were not supposed to be doing. We used to say that they were trying to “Sneak in the back door.” This implied that the action they were doing was either illegal, or unethical, or something they knew was not going to be accepted. The opposite of that saying was also true. When it was said of a person, “He/She walked through the front door …” it implied that they were not ashamed and were very bold to stand for what they believed. These folks were not afraid of rejection.
Did you know that God made a wonderful way for you to do that very thing as it regards Heaven? “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By Whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:1-2). When you have received Jesus Christ as your payment for sin, you don’t need to invent some sneaky way to slip into the gates of Heaven … you can walk through the front door! We will not walk through that front door with our chests puffed out in pride, but with a lowliness of mind and heart, realizing we did nothing to deserve that opportunity. We will know it was completely by faith in Christ that we have come there.
The Bible says we are “justified by faith.” This word, “justify,” does not mean that it is “just as if I never sinned.” Many have said this because it is easy to remember, but does not give the depth of what that term means to the believer. The word means that God knew all of our sin (every one); it means that as a righteous Judge, He accepted the death of Jesus, and placed His blood on our account. Thereby declaring an ungodly, undeserving sinner like us completely forgiven (made just), in the death, burial and resurrection power of His Son! Now I’m sorry, but that’s good stuff!
I thank God today that I am completely justified in the sight of God, even though I still battle sin in my life on a daily basis! I am complete in Jesus Christ! I have no need to cross my fingers, hoping I will someday “earn” a way into Heaven. I will not trust my good works; my church membership; taking communion; my baptism! No! I will trust Jesus Christ (His death … His burial … and His resurrection) alone to save me and give me a home in Heaven. When I come to the gates of Heaven, Jesus will be walking with me. We will go in the front door!
“Jesus alone …” – Unknown
“And being fully persuaded that, what He had promised, He was able also to perform” (Romans 4:21). What a great confidence we can have in our God to do exactly what He promised He would do! Abraham and Sarah were promised a son. Old age had seemingly overtaken the natural ability to have a child. Sarah was ninety, and Abraham was older than her. Praise God, He is not limited to nature. Our God made nature. Abraham had two choices at this point in his life. He could either doubt God’s ability to do the impossible, or he could demonstrate simple faith and trust Him.
You have these same two choices today. Will you doubt God’s promises, or stand firmly on them (regardless of how foolish it may seem). The world we are living in (and even most Christians) will try to talk you out of standing by faith. Your choice today is just as clear as Abraham’s was. There is no middle ground in this area of your Christian life. I know that it seems crazy to think it … but God really is able to do all that He promised He will do.
The real question is not whether or not God can do what He promised, but whether or not we will trust Him today. The words, “fully persuaded” mean to carry through to the end, to accomplish it. Make no mistake; God is going to do exactly what He said He would do! There will be no loose ends with God’s plan. He will do exactly what He said He would do. Let’s make it personal for you. If God touched your heart for a certain ministry, He will provide all the things necessary for you to accomplish that ministry! He will give you all the tools; He will provide all the supplies necessary; He will give you all the education you need; and He will bring about the end result.
The key to all this is for us to remain fully persuaded that He can and will do it. The key is for us to completely (100%) trust Him to do what He promised He will do. Don’t waste time debating something you know God wants you to do. Don’t hesitate for even a split second when God makes His will known to you. Don’t ask for the opinions of others; don’t seek outside counsel; don’t make a list of “pro’s” and “cons.” Step out by faith and do what God has touched your heart to do! Hesitation at that point becomes disobedience! Follow Him … He will never fail you! Know His will … He wants to reveal it to you, if you will seek Him. Sell out 100% to Him, and follow the path He has for your life!
“Faith is stronger than fear.” – Unknown
I remember years ago when I was a young teenager. Our family went on vacation to a Bible Conference for a week. I was more concerned about the pool and different games that we could play. As usual, my Mom forced me to take my trumpet along so I would not miss that week of practice (can you believe that?). One of the first days we were there, we passed the large tabernacle where the evening meetings were held, and we heard a man playing the trumpet … he was really good. My Mom turned to me and said, “You should ask him if you can play with him sometime.” I thought my mom had lost it! This guy was really good, and I was struggling to stay in the band at that point.
Little did I know, but my mother went to meet this man and asked if I could play with him. He told her to have me show up the next day when he was practicing. With knees knocking one against another, I walked into that auditorium with my “Olds Special” trumpet and introduced myself. We played some together and to my shock and surprise, he asked me to play the offertory with him that night in the meeting. I ended up playing every night that week! I was amazed that he had chosen me!
Today I read, “There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God” (Romans 3:11). What an incredible thought … I did not seek to find God; He came after me, pursuing me to join His family! This is such an amazing thought that we ought to stop once-in-awhile and thank Him for coming to our rescue. There is not one person reading this devotional today that decided one day to pursue God! Not one of us decided that we would like to know Him! He is the One Who decided that He would love us … even when we were completely unlovely, and undesirable. He came for me and for you to save us!
The old song says, “I was lost in sin, but Jesus took me in. He’s a wonderful Savior to me!” I agree! I am so thankful today that while I was still in my sin … going the opposite direction from righteousness, that God chased me down and saved my soul! I had nothing to do with it! It was and is all about Him! Because of that, I have nothing to do with keeping my salvation secure. That is all about Him too! I am so thankful today that He saved me, and that He keeps me saved! I could not do either on my own. I need Him so much, and so often. I’m thankful that He is my Friend that sticks closer than a brother!
“The LORD hath made known His salvation: His righteousness hath He openly showed in the sight of the heathen” (Psalm 98:2).
When you hear someone say that God is not right to send people to Hell, remember this verse. God has not sent one person to Hell in the entire history of the world. Every man/woman that has gone to Hell has done so by their own choice, not by God’s. His heart is that the whole world would be in Heaven. The Bible says over and over again that God is not interested in seeing people go to Hell.
If you don’t believe me, ask Jonah. Jonah had no desire to see anyone from the nation of Nineveh go to Heaven. He thought they all deserved to burn in Hell for their response to God and His people. You may have similar feelings to a person, or a group of people today. If you do … you are not in agreement with God! From this verse in the book of Psalms, you can see that God wants everyone to know about the salvation He offers. He openly showed His plan for forgiveness, even to the heathen. If you have not been thinking this same way, today would be a good day for repentance.
Let’s move to the second step we all need to take after we agree that the whole world needs to hear this message … will we do our part to make that happen? You might never board a plane or ship to go to a foreign country to reach the “heathen,” but you can help others get there! We always hear that there are more missionaries returning from the mission-field than there are going as new missionaries. We often look down on people for not surrendering to go to the mission-field; but I have seen this from a little different perspective. I see many young families that are surrendered, but struggle to raise the needed support to go! Do your part, and get involved!
Before I go much further, remember that there are heathen that live in your own town, and that you don’t need to fly, or ride somewhere to meet them. The question then becomes are you doing all you can to reach those who are without Christ that live in your own area? You can hand a tract to that stranger you will pass. You can be friendly and help your neighbor with the idea that after building a relationship you will be able to share the Gospel. You can visit a lonely person in a hospital with the message of hope. You can join in a soup-kitchen ministry, or prison ministry, or bus ministry, or ________. Don’t sit by and let this generation go to Hell! Do your part!
“Missions is not geography, it is people.” – Ted Camp
When you see a couple that have been married for an extended time, you will notice that they begin to think alike, and most times they will act the same. I have even noticed that couples that have been married for a long time will begin to look like each other. There is something about becoming so familiar with someone that you begin to think the same way. The same should be true of God and me as we walk through this life. The longer I am with God, following Him and depending upon Him, the more I should resemble Him and act like He wants me to act. I noticed this transformation with my father and mother. My Dad did not enjoy going to the area yard-sales each Saturday when my Mom first got interested in that. However, I noticed that after a while (some years), he actually started to get the hang of it, and I think he enjoyed it some.
I want to be so close to my Heavenly Father that I begin to act like Him and think like Him. The Bible says, “Ye that love the LORD, hate evil: He preserveth the souls of His saints; He delivereth them out of the land of the wicked” (Psalm 97:10). When we become Christians, we bring with us a natural love for this world. The longer we are saved, the less pull that world should have on us. The less we should love the things we knew there. Actually, this verse says we ought to hate the things we see going wrong in this world. The problem I sin in many individual Christians as well as many churches today is that we are trying to snuggle up as close as we can with the world, without stepping over the line of actual sin.
If you and I are going to resemble our Heavenly Father, we must learn to love the things He loves, and to hate the things He hates. Be careful today to keep your distance from evil. Don’t snuggle up to evil, but snuggle up to what is good. Stay close to the things that you know are right to do, and run away from those things that look evil! I know that you might think that you will be able to “rehabilitate” some of those things that are so horribly wrong, but you need to heed the warning of the Word of God! Run from those things you see that are evil. If you will do your part, God will do His part. If you will run away from sin, He will preserve and deliver you.
I want to walk in the light today so that I stay away from the pitfalls that the Devil has waiting for me. Please walk closely to your Heavenly Father and hate the evil that is in this world. It may seem that all the world is against you now, you will be glad you walked with God when you meet Him!
“The worst sin is not being aware of sin.” – Ted Camp
When I was a boy growing up, I can remember hearing a thousand times a day (exaggeration, I know, but you get the point), “Did you wash your hands … and face?” “Did you brush your teeth … all of them?” “Did you put on clean underwear?” “Did you …?” It seemed like there were thousands of things a boy had to remember to do each day that had little or no significance to the plans he had in mind. After all, I was thinking about the frogs in the local creek, and the bike that was leaning on the side of my house calling my name, and the bugs that needed to be caught, and … many other things that my Mom did not understand the significance of.
The Bible has some things we ought to be doing everyday too. “Sing unto the LORD, bless His name; show forth His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the heathen, His wonders among the people” (Psalm 96:2-3). According to the Word of God, I have some everyday things (chores) that God wants me to do as a mature believer. I don’t want to fail Him today and forget to do these things.
Show His salvation every day. There will be people that I will meet today that will need to know about the salvation that is found in God alone. Am I going to be willing to those who need to hear today? Will I be too worried about my own potential embarrassment to testify for my God? I must remember today that God’s salvation needs to be proclaimed every day!
Declare His glory to someone who does not know Him every day. Am I going to be willing to tell someone about the blessings of knowing God today? God has done so many wonderful things in my life that I want to tell everyone about Him. I don’t want to be guilty of receiving so much from Him, and then keeping it all to myself. I want to be a person that declares, and proclaims to the world how great my God is! I have noticed that the world is good at declaring the “glory” of their gods. I don’t want to be unfaithful to my God.
Show His wonders in my testimony to those who have not seen them. We live in a society that glamorizes movie stars and athletes. If you follow their lives you find that they are flawed and sinful, just like us. I want to be sure to speak of the wonders that God has done and continues to do on a daily basis. God changes lives every day. Tell someone about it today!
“For the LORD is great, and greatly to be praised: He is to be feared above all gods” – Psalm 96:4
It’s easy to make big promises; it’s another thing to actually do what you promised. I can remember being so frustrated with myself when I was a teenager, because I can remember being so moved by a message that I would go forward at the end of a service to surrender my whole heart and life to God. At the time, I was very serious, but there were more times than not that the promise I made died at the altar and never made it into my life. I hated that I made these promises and then did not have the back-bone, or courage to actually make the changes necessary.
There is a great example of this in our Old Testament. Moses was getting ready to go to the mountaintop to receive instructions on living from God Himself. Just before he went up the book this was the scene before the children of Israel. “And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, ‘All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient’” (Exodus 24:7). “We will do, and be obedient …” They said these words, I am sure, with the full intention of doing them.
However, we have read the “rest of the story.” While Moses was on this mountain receiving the laws God had for them to follow, these same people were building a golden calf (knowing full well that the first commandment was, “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3). Am I here to slam these people for their lack of faith and commitment? Not at all … I’m here to warn each of us about doing the exact same thing.
If these folks were guilty of this, we are even guiltier! They had such a limited library of what God had said compared to me. In front of me as I write this devotional is a copy of all sixty-six books of the Bible in my own language. I don’t need a translator … I don’t need a guide … I surely can’t complain that I did not have all the facts. All I need to live godly today is available to me right now.
I’m not even pointing a finger at you! I’m clearly pointing my finger at myself, and I would advise you to do the same. Any of us can make big promises to God about what we will do for Him. It is quite another thing to actually get out of our spiritual lazy-boy chair and actively serve God! Don’t put off finishing what you have promised God. Start where you are and do all you can today to obey all that you have told God you would do. There is much that needs to be done, and God is depending on us do it.
When I was growing up, “The Wooden Spoon” was a dreaded utensil in the kitchen drawer. That wooden spoon represented a great deal of things to me; none of which were enjoyable. You see, my mother used the wooden spoon to apply correction to my seat of education when necessary. I would like to tell you it wasn’t necessary that often, but I have such vivid memories of it, that I imagine I saw it more than I would like to admit. In all seriousness, I am so thankful for my mother’s wooden spoon, and her willingness to use it properly on my behalf.
To this day I have no problem with showing respect for police officers, teachers, pastors, and other leaders I am under. That all came because I had parents that were willing to love me enough to discipline me when I misbehaved! I know that sounds like a crazy statement in the days we are living, but I want to show you where my parents learned this great teaching technique. “The LORD knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity. Blessed in the man whom Thou chastenest, O LORD, and teachest him out of Thy law” (Psalm 94:11-12).
There are a number of things that got my attention with these verses today. First, I still do not like to be disciplined, but I continue to need it. If left to my own plans, I would make a mess of things. My own thoughts really are vanity. If God left me alone and I had to live with all my choices without His help, I would be in trouble, and so would you. I am thankful that when I am preparing to make a wrong decision, or a wrong move, that God loves me enough to stop me … to chasten me if necessary … to keep me on the right path.
The second thing I noticed in these verses is that it says clearly, “Blessed is the MAN whom Thou chastenest …” We often think that once we reach a certain age that the “spankings” stop. I am thankful that when I am going the wrong way today as a middle-aged (or old depending on how you look at me) man, that God is still willing to work on me. God still disciplines me to keep me on the right path. I wish that when I was a younger man I would have learned all the lessons I needed to learn, but I am still learning as I go today. I am thankful that God has not given up on me!
Rather than complaining about the discipline of your loving Heavenly Father; go to the drawer for the wooden spoon and thank God for continuing to love you so much. Thank Him today for helping you to walk in the center of His will. There’s no place like it!
“And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him” (Acts 28:30-31).
Paul’s life-story is amazing. He went from climbing the ranks of the Pharisees, to moving from prison to prison for preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The thing that impresses me each time I come toward the end of the book of Acts is Paul’s total disregard for his own comfort and safety. He willingly accepted prison in order to be able to present the Gospel to unbelievers, and to go to visit the Christians in Rome. He got free transportation (even though it was a life and death trip the entire voyage) at the expense of the Roman government (because he went as a prisoner).
The entire way there on this harrowing voyage, Paul testified of the great power of God and witnessed to all on the ship. When they were ship-wrecked, Paul testified to an entire island and healed many of their sick. When he finally arrived in Rome, he again shared what Jesus Christ had done for him and invited the Romans to trust Him too. Acts 28:30-31 is an incredible verse to me. The phrase Joseph made to his brothers that had sold him into slavery in Egypt comes to my mind … “What things you meant for evil, God meant for good.”
Paul had incredible spiritual freedom from the Lord regardless of physical bondage he might have been facing! That last phrase of these two verses really caught my attention: “… no man forbidding him.” The centurion assigned to the Apostle Paul might have thought he was in control, but the Holy Spirit of God was in absolute control of the situation! That reminds me that when things are not going exactly as I have planned they should go, that God is still in control, and no one (including me) is going to stop His plan.
Even though Paul was in prison … even though he was in a foreign country … even though he would eventually be be-headed in Rome … God was still in control! Regardless of what challenges lie just ahead of you … remember that this same God is still alive and in control today! Don’t lose hope, or give up hope, or think that because a majority of people think differently than you that this is reason to give up. Press on!
“God has the right to do what He pleases, when He pleases.” – Unknown