“‘Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge, that I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightiest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee’” (Proverbs 22:20-21)?
God has given us an incredible book so that we could know the actual truth about what is going on around us both now, in the past, and also in the future! What an incredible book we have in our Bible! Why is it that we feel it is not enough? Why is it that we trust the internet before we trust the Bible? Why is it that we will trust what a friend tells us or a teacher tells us, or a person who is in the government tells us before we will trust the clear teaching in the Word of God? Shame on us!
I have heard some crazy theories about how things are happening around us, and when I ask where this information came from my jaw drops. I can’t believe how quickly we will trust the newspapers, the television reports, or something read on the internet. You know, just because they printed it in the newspaper, or broadcast it on the internet or TV does not make it true. I have had teachers tell me things in a classroom that I knew were false. I had the proof to show that they were mistaken. I am not trying to say that they are always wrong, but they are certainly not the absolute that I want to build my life upon.
I have been studying the Word of God since I could read. I am going to be conservative and say that I have been studying the Bible for over forty-five years, and I have found every word in the Bible to be trust-worthy! This verse tells us that God gave us this Book (the Bible) and filled it with counsel and knowledge. He has given us this book to help us to know with a certainly that the truth we all are searching for is found on its pages! He has given us this book so that we would be able to have an answer when someone approaches us with the questions.
I am convinced that more people are looking for the truth today than at any other point in the history of mankind. Some will tell you that there is nothing that is absolute truth, but these are the very ones who are searching so desperately for the truth. Read your Bible. Study your Bible. Know your Bible. If questions come up in your mind, ask someone for help. Teach others what you have learned from your Bible. The hope for our world is not found in the “things” in this world, or in this world’s wisdom. The hope for this world today is found on the pages of your Bible.
Why is it that we are so centered on ourselves all the time? It is because of the pride that is inside each of us. It is because of the sin nature we each possess. It is because when the Devil fell from Heaven, he introduced his desire to be equal with God to us, and we have believed that the universe revolves around us! Again, simply stated, it is sin. Today I read, “That we should be to the praise of His glory, who first trusted in Christ” (Ephesians 1:12).
As much as we have a natural tendency to focus on ourselves, I believe it is important for each of us to make time to focus solely on our Heavenly Father each day! It is good for us to do exactly what this verse says we ought to do. We need to praise God for His glory. We need to stop looking for ways to promote ourselves and our desires and our agendas and begin to look for ways to make God look good. David Gibbs said something like, “Man’s goal in life ought to be to make God look good.” I believe that’s what this verse is saying to us as well.
When was the last time you used the word, “pride” when describing something you did, or to one of your family members? When was the last time you heard yourself saying something like, “I just need to brag on myself a little”? When was the last time you stopped saying something like that to say, “I’m thankful to God for …”? If you have anything that is good … if you have done anything that is worthy of the praise of men … if your children have done anything you feel is worthy of “bragging,” remember where the gifts and abilities that prompted those things came from.
The Devil has constantly promoted the idea that you and I are worthy of praise for something we have done. The reality is that when we do that, we have taken the praise that belonged to God, and we have stolen it for ourselves. That should not happen in our lives, but it is our natural sinful tendency. Unfortunately we have learned that behavior from the enemy of God, not from God Himself.
I don’t know what you’re good at, but I know that if you are good at something, it came as a gift from God. I don’t know what people might praise you for, but please deflect that praise to God. He is the Person that has gifted you to do the things that will draw praise. Make sure today that you return that praise to God. Make sure that when that prayer is answered that you have been asking Him for that you pause long enough to say thank you to Him for the provision. He is worthy of our praise!
When we were kids, we learned a little chorus that said, “Our God is so big, so strong and so mighty there’s nothing our God cannot do.” This is a very deep theological truth that even a child can understand. Today I read a simply, but incredible verse. We live in a time in the history of mankind, when he (mankind in general) believes that he knows everything, and that he doesn’t need the help or interference of anyone, or anything else. I am reminded more and more that I am in need … I cannot solve all the problems that face me … I cannot help those who are hurting … I cannot even help myself. My Bible says, “Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable” (Psalm 145:3).
Hallelujah! I don’t need to be everything … I simply need to know that God Who is great! I do know Him because He loved me so much that He sent His one and only Son to take my place of punishment on a cross! That is great! He not only loved me enough to save me from my sin, He also provides a way to live in His grace every day. That is great! He also provided me with a personal copy of His “love-letter” that I call the Bible. I cannot tell you how much I love this Book! It is my life, my encouragement, my challenge, my source of wisdom and many other things. That is great!
He also gave me an avenue to talk to Him directly, with no one else listening in. I know I’m going to sound old now, but when we were growing up; our telephone was a “party line.” This meant that we shared the phone line with other people. Sometimes I would lift the phone to call a friend (before cell phones … I know, I really am old), and I would hear a conversation already taking place on the phone. I would hang up and try again later. There were times I was talking and would hear a person pick up, and realize the same and hang up. I’m thankful that when I talk with God today, I can tell Him all my deepest secrets, fears and joys without anyone else listening in! That is great!
What I’m trying to tell you today is that there are so many great things about God. He simply is Great! I wanted to take a minute to talk about how great my God is. Not how great my football team is, or my government, or my job, or my ________. I love my God and want you to know that He is great! I want to lift His name high today. Will you join me?
“That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace” (Psalm 144:12). In the verse just above this one, David speaks of his fear of the “strange children” of his enemies. There is a definite distinction made between the “strange children,” and the “sons” that grow“as plants” and“daughters” that are “corner stones”, and “polished” stones. We all know that David had issues with his children … but his heart (that was called a heart after God’s own heart), was for his sons to grow up like strong plants and his daughters to be like polished stones and cornerstones.
It is important for us to understand that if we do not take the care necessary to raise our children in a godly fashion … the “strangers” of this world will be happy to do it for us. I want you to consider the role that parents are to take in the “planting” and “polishing” of their children. We have a responsibility to them, to raise them to be solid and strong in the days ahead.
It is interesting the word pictures that God uses in this verse. A plant takes a great effort to get it to grow strong. It takes a good deal of attention to make sure that that plant produces fruit. There is breaking up of the ground that is required. Sometimes in order to get the principles into our sons that we want, we need to break up a stubborn spirit. After we break up the ground, we need to plant a seed. Of course, the greatest seed we can plant in our son’s hearts is the Word of God. We then must make sure weeds do not choke out the good nutrients that the plant needs, and we need to water and sun get to it to help it grow. We need to help our sons choose good friends and provide good advice that will help them to have the greatest opportunity for success possible.
We are to polish our daughters so they can be good cornerstones. The process of polishing stones is really interesting. It involves placing the stones you want to polish inside a barrel with other rougher stones and water and allowing them to roll around and around while the rougher stones knock off the rough edges of the stone being polished. This means that we need to spend time with our daughters, helping them to recognize the rough areas of their lives and guide them to removing them. It also strikes me that the abrasive process produces the smoothest stone!
Both of these things take a great deal of time, but both are well worth the effort when the finished product is seen. Don’t take the easy path in life; give the effort needed to produce what God wants us to be!
I hated the game “Hide and seek.” There, I said it … I hated the amount of time when you were the “seeker” that you had to count while the others hid. I hated the time I had to WAIT for them to hide. The honest truth is that I didn’t enjoy the “hiding” part either. I would get in my spot and WAIT and WAIT … not my idea of fun. Actually, as an adult, I still have trouble WAITING. Today I read a verse that gives me a reason to WAIT on my Heavenly Father. “For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside Thee, what He hath prepared for him that waiteth for Him” (Isaiah 64:4).
Yes, I saw it too … if I want the blessings of God; I will need to WAIT for them. I don’t know about you, maybe you are very patient and you don’t mind the waiting part. I seem to be very impatient when it comes to things I want to see and also for the things I don’t want to see. Today I need to go to the dentist … I hate going to the dentist … I think I would rather go to the mortician. The waiting leading up to the appointment is something I do not enjoy. I also have things that I am very excited to see happen in my life. I have an equally hard time waiting for that to come.
I want to encourage you today (if you are like me) to patiently wait for what God has for us. We who are believers have an indescribable place waiting for us in Heaven. As this verse describes, our ears have never heard the beautiful sounds that Heaven will give us. Our eyes have never seen the spectacular sights Heaven holds for us. These are all dependent upon us waiting for the Lord. It is true; none of us will ever touch Heaven unless we have waiting on the Lord. Without Jesus Christ, our sin blocks any hope of an entrance into Heaven.
I want to end this devotional by encouraging those who are reading this that have been putting off a full trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior. Don’t wait! Today admit that you have sinned in your life. Recognize that God is perfect, and your imperfections cannot enter His Heaven. Accept the fact that Jesus Christ is the ONLY perfect sacrifice for your sin, and that He died in your place, and in payment for your sin. Believe with all your heart that Jesus rose from the grave bodily to secure your salvation. Don’t wait to ask Jesus Christ to forgive your sin; trust His payment for you; believe that His death, burial and resurrection were payment in full for you. Wait for His coming, but don’t wait to make Him your Savior! You won’t regret it.
Yesterday a dear friend of our family graduated into Heaven. We knew this day was coming for her, but we still grieved upon hearing the news. We do not grieve for her, but for we who remain here on this earth. As always, God’s Word perfectly speaks to what we are experiencing at this time. When a friend/family member leaves this earthly life to enter eternal life, it leaves us feeling a little strange. We believe that as Jesus rose from the grave; our saved loved ones have not tasted death at all. After all, He is the resurrection and the life. Any person that believes in Him will never die, but has everlasting life. So the struggle continues between what we can see, and what we believe. I will trust the Word of God before I will trust my own feelings or emotions. As I opened my Bible this morning, I needed some comfort from my Heavenly Father. The 142nd Psalm provided just that for me. Look at some of the highlights of this chapter with me today.
“I cried unto the LORD” (142:1) – Tears are bound to come in this life. We live a series of disappointments, failures, and challenges. Tears are going to come in every person’s life. I want to run to God with my tears. He is a faithful God Who will listen and provide me with answers to the challenges I am facing in my life. Run to Him with your tears today!
“I poured out my complaint before Him” (142:2) – I love this phrase … our God is big enough to handle all our complaints! He is not afraid of them, because He sees the big picture of all that is happening in the unfolding of His plan for our lives. Praise God for a place where we can go to unburden our heart!
“I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man …” (142:4) – This has happened to all of us who have gone through tough times. I was talking with my father upon hearing the news of our friend who just died, and we were talking about how it seems that the Lord draws nearer to us in the challenging times. When my mother stepped into Heaven, I wanted to shoulder part of the burden my father was carrying, but I could not, nor could any other man help. My Dad could look to the right and left and would find no man who could help. But that’s when our God steps in! He is there for us when no other person can help. “I cried unto Thee, O LORD: I said, ‘Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living” (Psalm 142:5). Praise God He is there!
“Over the sunset mountains someday I’ll softly go, into the arms of Jesus – He Who has loved me so.” – John W. Peterson
When I was in High School the popular thing was to give your friends nicknames. These were sometimes connected to something you did, or some funny characteristic about you. Sometimes there wasn’t much to build upon, so you were simply known as the initials of your name. I was called “JB” by my friends in school, but we did have some really funny names. One I recall for a guy in our class was, “squeaky” (he has some issued when his voice was in the process of changing). “Bear” was another I remember because the guy who wore that name was well over six feet tall! I think you get the idea. We sometimes get a name by some characteristic we have that others notice.
The Bible speaks about some things we might be named as believers in Jesus Christ. Isaiah the prophet was writing to Israel in the Old Testament, and he wrote a few names that they would be called that also apply to those who have believed Jesus Christ today. “And they shall call them, ‘The holy people,’ ‘The redeemed of the LORD:’ and thou shalt be called, ‘Sought out. A city not forsaken’” (Isaiah 62:12). Consider what these names might mean to us today.
“The holy people” – God’s desire for every Christian today is to live a life that shows holiness. We are living in an unholy world. God wants our light to shine because we are holy. We are to be holy like He is holy.
“Redeemed of the LORD” – We are called “redeemed” because we have been purchased off the auction-block of sin by the blood of Jesus Christ. This should show in the way we live our lives. Since we have been redeemed from sin, why should we try to get as close to it as we can? We should not! We should be running in the opposite direction as fast as we can go. We have been bought out of the slavery of sin – let’s not cuddle up to it in the ways we live our lives!
“Sought out” – Jesus told His people in Luke 19:10 that He came to “seek and to save that which was lost.” I am so thankful that when I turned my back on God, He sent His Son to bring me back home. He pursued me, I did not have the desire to pursue Him! Praise God for His love for us!
“A city not forsaken” – You can never say “Nobody cares about me …” God has said that He will never leave you, or forsake you. You cannot ever be totally alone again! When you need help, look to Him, He is there with you. When you have lost hope, remember that He will never forsake you!
Don’t place your hope in me to help you … I will fail you. Don’t hope in your money to provide what you will need … it will fail you. Don’t hope in your health to hold you … it will deteriorate. Don’t hope in your religion to hold you (if it is based on traditions and not the Bible) … it will erode away in times of struggle. Don’t hope in world peace in this ever-changing world … it is not going to happen apart from a Divine act of God.
You might think I have gone off the deep end and need some psychiatric help after reading this! Don’t stop reading … today I read, “I said unto the LORD, ‘Thou art my God; hear the voice of my supplications, O LORD. O GOD the Lord, the strength of my salvation, Thou hast covered my head in the day of battle’” (Psalm 140:6-7). This is THE ONLY place you and I can find real HOPE! Why is it that we spend so much of our time on the other things I listed in the opening paragraph of this devotional? We all have seen these things collapse at different times in our lives, and yet we seem to run to them first. What a great thing it is to know God personally!
What a great thing to know God personally! There is nothing that compares to this relationship. I have watched people step into eternity who have been tightly holding onto the hand of God. There is no thrashing, or despair. There is peace and contentment. I have watched people face incredible pressure without fear of what was coming, simply because they were trusting in God and not their situation. I have also witnessed people who had great storehouses of money crumble under the pressure of normal life situations. I have seen people who depended on someone else (who eventually failed them), fall apart themselves when disappointment came.
The real point of the verses I shared with you this morning is that you and I will be an advertisement for one of these two positions in the way we live our lives. Are you going to build a strong relationship with God today so that when you are facing the difficulties of life you can have this same kind of confidence? Or, will you trust these other “things/people” and find them totally lacking when you need help in difficult times? The choice is yours, and you will display which choice you have made by who you spend the most time with today. Don’t build you spiritual house on the sands of this world. Build you house upon the Rock of Jesus Christ. If you do, you will find that there is nothing that can defeat you. When you place your trust in Him, you will find He is trust-worthy.
“You know, you really should clean this office…” is a statement I hear often from my wife. I always tell her that I know where everything is and that if I clean it up, I will lose my fancy filing system. It never fails; shortly after this conversation, I find myself looking for something without success. It is then that I realize that it is time to clean my office. Spiritually speaking, every night before we go to sleep, or every day when we wake up, it is time to do some spiritual house-cleaning. David said it this way: “Search me, O God, and know my heart: Try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).
I want to recommend a little booklet to each of you reading this. It is entitled, “My Heart, Christ’s Home.” This little booklet was written by Robert Boyd Munger. When I first went to Bible College, this was required reading. Because it was such a small booklet, I decided to read it first. When I began reading, I was simply fulfilling a reading requirement … but as I understood the principle behind the book, it changed my life. Whenever I read this chapter in Psalms, I am reminded of the truth of that booklet.
Munger’s booklet describes our lives as a house. He mentions the Library as the place we store all the information that come to our attention. The Kitchen is the place our appetites are fed. The Study is the place we either pass by, or sit down to consider important thoughts … and so on. In this booklet, Munger goes through each room, surrendering each part of our life to the lordship of Christ. He describes giving over the control of each room to Christ. As the book comes to an end, there is one remaining closet that has not been surrendered. He describes the battle of releasing that room to the authority of Christ. Victory comes with the signing over of the title of the “house” to Jesus Christ.
The key to living a successful Christian life lies in the depth of our commitment to allowing our God to “search” every part of our life; revealing the area’s that need to be changed; and giving in to the convicting and cleaning work of the Holy Spirit. Take the time today to pray through these two verses, asking God to reveal any weakness or sin that needs to be forgiven and forsaken. Allow God to do the clean-up work you need today. We are incapable of changing ourselves from the inside out, but He is certainly able and willing to do that with each of us today!
There was an old song that had a line in it that said, “… brighten the corner where you are.” Today I read this, and thought about the responsibility each Christian has to be a positive influence in this world today. “Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop: but a good word maketh it glad” (Proverbs 12:25). This world we are living in has plenty of complainers and people who are ready to share all their grief with you. A believer ought to have a light to bring into that darkened room!
I know that a Christian faces just as tough a time in this world as those without Christ do. I know that Christians get cancer and face death. I know that Christians lose children long before we thought they should go. I know Christians have arthritis and rheumatism and shingles and all the other stuff. I know that we are facing times in our world when it is not popular to be a Christian and take a stand. I know that there are people making false and damaging accusations against people simply for standing for Christ today. I know all these things … but it is time for us believers to live like we are on our way to Heaven!
A friend of mine spoke of someone we each knew this way … he said that when this person (a believer) walked into his place of business, it was as if a dark cloud came with them. Don’t let that be said about you! I have known the opposite kind of person too. I have known people that came into a room, and no matter how dark it had seemed before they came in, things seemed a bit better when they arrived. Let that be your goal today as you go through your normal routine.
You can take “heaviness” into a room … or you can bring a “good word” and gladness will follow you. You realize that you get to choose what you will bring with you into a room. You will take one of the two of these. It is time for some of us to stop looking around us at the discouraging things that are happening, and to look to our Master for help, guidance and joy! It is time that this world saw an authentic joy that comes only from the throne of Almighty God and has spread its way into our hearts and lives! It is time that we who are going to Heaven begin to live in such a way that we are a good advertisement for others to join us, rather than driving them away from the Gospel because of our negative attitude.
Recognize today that you are the only person who will walk in your footsteps. Make sure that you touch the people God will bring across your path in the way He hoped you would. Bring a ray of sunshine today!
I know that it is popular in this world to hold on to as much as you possibly can. God’s plan involves you using what He places in your hand to be a blessing to others. The book of Proverbs says it this way, “The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself” (Proverbs 11:25). There have been many times in my life that I have felt a strong leading of the Holy Spirit to give something to someone else. I have often thought about how many blessings I would have missed if I clenched my fist instead of giving what God prompted me to give.
There is a very important aspect to this truth that we should not miss. If I am responsible for taking care of my own needs, I will not be so quick to give anything away. However, that is not the case for an obedient Christian. If you have been obedient with your finances, as the Bible describes, then God is the One Who will provide for the needs you have. Paul wrote about this to those believers in the church in Philippi. He thanked them for giving to his need on multiple occasions, and then made this statement to these givers … “… my God shall supply all your need …” (Philippians 4:19). We often misquote the pronoun in this verse, replacing the word, “your” with the word, “my.”
This promise Paul gave was to those believing Christians who had given to his need in the past. If you want God to bless you with the things you will need when you will need them, you must be a giver yourself. I know that God made the church a place that is to care for itself. That means that God will bless you individually so that you can be a blessing to the whole. Does that mean that you should go to church handing out twenty dollar bills? No, that is not the case at all. Just as important as this truth is throughout Scripture is the principle that says if a person does not work, they should not eat. I am not recommending that you waste your money on others.
I am encouraging generosity when the Spirit of God touches your heart for the need of someone, or something else. The believer ought to be willing to give much, because God has blessed you with more than you deserve! If you are stingy with the things God has given you, don’t expect God to touch the hearts of others to give to you when you have a need. Also, a word of caution is important here. Read Acts 5 and make sure you do not follow the example of Ananias and Sapphira. They wanted the blessings of God without a proper heart of giving in the first place. In general, I want to encourage you to have a giving heart. You will not regret it!
Today, as God would have it, I read Psalm 136. All twenty-six verses contain the same ending … “His mercy endureth forever.” The writer praises God because He is the God of all gods, and the Lord of all lords. Because He made the heavens; He stretched out the earth above the waters; He made the sun, moon, and stars; He defeats the enemies of God’s people; He demonstrates His power for His children. This chapter is stacked full of reasons we have seen the mercy of God meeting the needs of His children at just the right time.
Yesterday I received an email from a friend who knows a couple that recently were told of some serious health challenges they would face in the days ahead. Yesterday morning, the wife fell on her face before God and told Him that they were going to trust Him completely. She was in the process of memorizing Psalm 27:1, and simply cried out to God that she needed encouragement from Him for all they were facing. She even specifically asked God to show here something in writing. About the time she uttered that prayer to God, she heard a swishing noise outside and stepped to the window looking toward the sound. As she looked toward her neighbor’s house, she saw a hot-air balloon coming over her neighbor’s roof to land in her back-yard. She noticed something was written on the side of the balloon … “DO ALL FOR THE GLORY OF GOD.”
Tell me your God does not know about what you are going through! Toward the end of Psalm 136 it says, “Who remembered us in our low estate: for His mercy endureth forever” (Psalm 136:23). I want you to know that God knows you … even when you are in a “low estate.” God touched the heart of a Christian couple who own a hot-air balloon company to put the phrase, “Do all for the glory of God” on the side of their balloon months ago. They launched that very balloon hours before this dear lady fell to her knees. God sent the exact right wind to get that balloon to her home at exactly the time she would reach that “low estate.” As my friend Henry shared this story with me he said, “Either that is a coincidence or a direct act of God … I choose the second!”
Stop for a moment with me and praise God for His mercies that endure forever! I don’t know who reads this … and I certainly don’t know what you are facing today or in the future … but I know that my Heavenly Father has mercy that will endure forever. I also know that He hears the cries of His people! I also know that He can send an air-balloon to you too, if you will trust Him! Look up today! Your help comes from above!