Thursday, April 30, 2009

Proposals and Deadlines and Research, Oh My!

The last twelve days have been quite full. I came back from the writers' retreat totally jazzed. My adrenaline was up, and I had been given the necessary kick-start to go full steam ahead with projects that I've had on the drawing boards for quite some time.

One proposal off to an editor by 4/27/09 -- and two more ideas just popped up to enhance that one. Working on a proposal to have out by mid-month. That one's a little trickier.

Meantime, I've been doing research for one of the three historical novels I've had rattling around in my brain since my mother did some family tree climbing twenty-five or thirty years ago.

I've undertaken another editing project. And decided this was the time to update my websites.

If you have a spare prayer, I'd appreciate your remembering me. I'll need all of God's help I can get.


Focus verses: Psalm 66

Today's reading includes the injunction "Shout with joy." When we think of the splendor of God, when we realize that His ultimate plan is a relationship with us, there is little else we can do.

To think that the Lord of the universe is interested in us, each and every one of us, as individuals is almost too much to comprehend. He loves each of us as if we were His only child. In fact, the Gospel of John tells us that He loves us as much as He loves Himself in the person of Jesus.

Wrapping one's mind around the thought that God the Father loves me as much as He loves Jesus, the Son, is nearly impossible. The magnitude of God's love for us is overwhelming.

How are we to respond to such a love? What can we do or say that would adequately show Him our appreciation, our gratitude?

The only way is to become a channel of God's love to the rest of the world. Some of His children do not know Him. Some of them have wandered away. If we can help the wandering to come home, if we can introduce someone to God, we have reason to shout for joy.

But if all we do is recognize all the the Lord has done for us, that's reason enough to shout for joy!

Father, God,

Help us to remember the joy of knowing You. Grant that we may never take Your friendship for granted, that we will always be grateful that the Lord of the universe cares about us.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Sweeter Than Honey

Focus verses: Psalm 19

David, as a shepherd, had a lot of time to observe the heavens and let the wonders of God sink into his spirit. He saw them day and night. Look at his descriptions. Indeed the heavens do declare the glory of God.

It was in the fields that he learned the statutes of God and the truth thereof. His apprenticeship was nearly perfect because it was uninterrupted by the things of men.

David only got into trouble when he was embroiled in the king's house and the affairs of men. In the fields, alone with God, it was a different story. There was nothing to stand between him and his knowledge of God and God's sovereignty.

In keeping the Lord's statutes there is great reward.

He closes with the prayer that all of us must have in our hearts.

Father, God,

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Focus verses: Psalm 112

We've heard the old saw "virtue is it's own reward." This psalm expounds on that theme using the concept of righteousness.

All virtue and righteousness spring from a love and reverence for the Lord, from an appreciation of and adherence to his ordinances. Blessings follow the person who does as the Lord desires.

Obedience to the Lord simplifies our lives.

When we tell the truth, we have no need of an exceptional memory to keep from tripping ourselves up.

When we are generous with others, we hold money lightly enough not to let it become our ruler and make us slaves.

When we are compassionate with others, we reflect the compassion of God for us. Having been made in the image of God, our highest goal should be to reflect the person of God to this hurting world.

Father, God,

Turn our hearts toward You. Grant that we may be generous with all Your hurting world, being suitable ambassadors for Christ.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Taking His Name In Vain

Focus verses: Psalm 50

This psalm is attributed to Asaph, a temple musician. The last third of it chills the bones. It seems to come from God and talk to those people who use His name and quote His words from impure motives.

He challenges the right of people to use the name and laws of God if they don't obey those same laws. He accuses them of aiding and abetting thieves and consorting with adulterers.

He speaks to their penchant for slander and vilification and lying. It sounds a lot like the society in which we live today.

We use the name and words of the Lord without believing in their power. We quote scripture to prove our point without regard for the context of the verse we are quoting. We forget the power of God and look to our own devices. A fatal mistake and one we would do well to avoid at all costs.

Father, God,

Help us to remember the power of Your words and our responsibility to use them with reverence and wisdom. Keep us faithful and obedient to Your laws.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

David's Prophesy

Focus verses: Psalm 14

Reading this psalm it feels like David had a crystal ball into our world today. The fool says in his heart "there is no God."

If there is no God, there is no absolute right or wrong. From this we get situation ethics and tolerance of virtually every perversion in the name of diversity. "It's not right for me, but it may be right for you." What balderdash!

There are no more two kinds of right than there are two kinds of straight line. A thing is right or it isn't. A line is straight or it isn't.

We try God's patience with our waffling about right and wrong. In fact, we've waffled so long that there is no sense of wrong any more. Our society is in complete moral decline. It will take concentrated repentance and prayer to turn this fatal slide around.

But He has promised that if His people repent and pray, He will hear and will heal the land.

Father, God,

Help us to see Your absolutes with clarity. Give us the humility and heart to repent and pray for our nation.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Eternal Security

Focus verses: Psalm 123

When we think of help coming from a foreign source, we need to think of the Lord first. He is the one who's power is sufficient for all things.

Who can stand against the wrath of the Lord? Which of my enemies can best the Lord?

What more could we want than to have the creator of the universe on our side? His vigilance is eternal. He's never away from the desk or phone. His help for us is as near as our next breath.

He won't let us fall. He won't even let our foot slip. Nothing in nature can harm us. Nothing man can do will hurt us. For God Himself is our savior.

He watches our every move, to keep us secure in all things - at all times. His vigilance for us is unceasing and eternal. Our lives are secure in Him.

So why should we worry about anything. After all, worry is praying to the wrong god.

Father, God,

Thank You for the reassurance that You are concerned with our lives, our comings and goings, and our petty affairs. Thank You for keeping us safe in You.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Thanksgiving And Joy

Focus verses: Psalm 95

Let us sing for joy to the Lord. Sometimes we don't feel joyful. How do we sing then?

If we remember who God is and what He has done for us, we can get a better perspective on why we don't feel joyful. Generally it's because we are concentrating on some external circumstance or condition that appears to be negative.

Finding the joy comes from remembering that He is the rock of our salvation. When we focus on God, who He is and what He has done for us, the current negatives of our situation seem to fade into the background.

When we think of all He has done for us, we cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Living with this thanksgiving is what gives us the joy of the Lord.

When we praise Him, we draw closer to Him. He inhabits the praises of His people. Singing for the joy of the Lord is one of our highest callings - whether we can sing on key or not. We are called to make a joyful noise unto the Lord.

Father, God,

Keep our minds on You and all that You have done for us. Help us not to be distracted by circumstances, but always focused on Your generosity to us.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Undivided Heart

Focus verses: Psalm 86

David was called a man after God's own heart. A prayer like this one will help us to know how he got that way. He asked for it.

God is quite simple. He loves us - each of us - as if there were only one of us, as if you were His only child. If we ask Him to give us this undivided heart, He will honor that prayer. But what does it mean, exactly?

It means that God is first in our hearts. It means that whatever else we love and appreciate, we do so in light of God's love for us and His love for the other person. It means that we love God most.

God loves me. I love God. God loves you so I love you. I love you, as God loves you, because my love is only a small reflection of His love.

That love means that I seek your benefit before I seek my own. There was an old saying I learned in Sunday School. JOY equals Jesus first, Others second, Yourself last. It's a simple formula - but it is true.

If we put God first in our lives, think of others in light of His love for them, and rest securely in His love for us, knowing that He will take care of our needs, life will be a lot more pleasant.

Father, God,

Grant us an undivided heart. Help us to respond to Your love for us, by loving all the rest of Your hurting world as you love it.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Focus verses: Psalm 64

David knew the importance of words. They can comfort and heal, or they can wound and kill. This is true whether on a personal level with gossip and slander, or on a business level with craft and subtlety.

God must have thought words and the tongue that speaks them quite important because David is not the only one writing about them. Look at the third chapter of James:

2: For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.
3: Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.
4: Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.
5: Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!
6: And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.
7: For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind:
8: But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.

We can only learn to tame our tongue and our words when we are in complete submission to Christ. It is His power that rules, not our puny mortal wills.

Father, God,
Help us to bring our tongues into line with what You would have us say. Keep us from hurting others with thoughtless or malicious words.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Focus verses: Psalm 46

David's psalms carry us through the diversities and adversities of life. He touches all the seasons from elation and praise to persecution and despair. This psalm, however, shows us the power.

"Be still and know that I am God." Be still. Quiet your heart; cease striving. It all adds up to getting your heart and mind quiet enough to hear His small whispers clearly enough to heed them.

Be still... Even when chaos seems to reign, God is still in charge. He is the salvation we need so desperately.

Look at His awesome power. Look at the detailed care He takes in creation. Look at His power over the antions and affairs of men.

Truly every knee shall bow before Him. Praise His name.

Father, God,
Thank You for speaking to us in the stillness. Help us to quell our fears and calm our excitements to be able to hear You better.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Familiar Territory

Focus verses: Psalm 23

David's psalms are beautiful, but this is probably the most familiar. It teaches you a lot of theology by describing God as a shepherd.

"The Lord is my shepherd." Notice that He is MY shepherd. He is personal to me. This is a one on one relationship.

"I shall not want." He is able and willing to fulfill my every need.

Green pastures are areas of abundance and peace. Still waters allow the sheep to drink without the possibility of drowning. Restoration of the soul gives one the ability to rejoice anew.

Heeding and obeying His commandments will keep us from doing evil. No matter where we are, His constant presence reassures us that He is sovereign. When all the world seems to be against us, He provides whatever we need. He adopts us as His children, children of the King.

His presence in our lives is our abundance and provision. Now and always. We are His forever.

Father, God,
Thank you for being our total provision at all times and in all circumstances. Grant that we, like sheep, may hear and follow only the Shepherd's voice.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Our Stronghold

Focus verses: Psalm 11

Have you ever felt that there was no place safe for you? David has had those feelings. And today he gives in to them.

We begin with comparison of a bird followed by a paean of praise for the Lord.

It is this song of praise that I want to talk to you about. When God seems far away, it isn't God who has moved. Singing moves you back to God's side and brings him closer with each syllable.

Try it.

Father, God,

Keep a song of praise to You in our hearts. Grant us the new joy of our fresh salvation with ech new day.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Torch Is Passed

Focus verses: 1 Chronicles 28: 1-10

We read today of an orderly transition from one king to another. David had set the house of Israel in order, jobs were defined and fillled. The plans for the temple were completed to the last detail.

Solomon listened as David told him to acknowledge God and seek Him with a whole heart and a willing mind, because God searches the hearts and motives of the people. If you seek Him diligently, you will find Him because He wants you to find Him.

If, however, you reject Him, He will reject you as well. He will not force you to love Him. Because He gave you a free will, He wants you to come back to him of your own accord. You are able to choose freely whether you are among His people or not.

After the bloodshed of the years, David was not to be allowed to build the temple because he was a warrior and had shed blood. But Solomon had been chosen to build the temple. God set a philosophical king over the land to replace the warrior king.

David's battles had cleared the way for Solomon's peace.

Father, God,

Help us to understand that Your plans are perfect. That no matter what we think or say, Your precepts are the foundation of all our faith. Keep us rooted and grounded in Your peace.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Affairs In Order

Focus verses: 1 Chronicles 23:1-6

David was old and putting his affairs in order. The Levites' duties changed because they no longer needed to move the tent of meeting. Levites, priests, judges, gatekeepers, and musicians were decided by lot and given their assigned duties. David did all this to get his house in order before his death.

Four thousand of the thirty-eight thousand men were appointed to be musicians with harps, cymbals and lyres. That represents more than ten percent of their numbers. And that doesn't count the special group of appointed singers.

David thought the music was important. Since he was a man after God's own heart, we can assume God thought the music was important as well. The singers didn't just sing, they prophesied to the music. We can be certain that they praised as well.

God inhabits the praises of His people. When we sing, we stir the Holy Spirit within our spirit. The words and music resonate with us and leave us uplifted, better than when we started. He who sings, prays twice - once in the music and once in the words.

When in doubt, sing. When in trouble, sing. When put upon by all kinds of trials and problems, sing.

Lift up your heart and voice. Sing!

Father, God,

Thank you for the ability to praise you in music and song. We are grateful that you said "make a joyful noise" not sing beautifully on key. Touch our hearts so that we are ever ready to open in mouths in praise of You.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

An Altar On A Threshing Floor

Focus verses: 1 Chronicles 22:1-16

Today's reading tells the beginning of the Temple, but it begins with the altar David had been told to build on the threshing floor.

Israel was again at peace with God and with itself. But David had numbered the fighting men without being told of God to do so. It was, in fact, a sin that Satan tempted him to. Whether he simply wanted to know the numbers or was planning some aggression in his heart, he took it upon himself to do this.

God was displeased, and He allowed David to choose the punishment. From three choices, David chose the hand of the Lord over discipline by other nations. David acknowledged his sin and returned to the Lord's way of doing things.

David's sins have precluded his building the temple for the Lord, but he started the planning and handed the job off to his son, Solomon. Best of all, he composed a song of dedication for the temple. (Psalm 30)

The music is back. When we agree with the Lord about our sins and have come through the consequences of our actions, the joy of the Lord's music can once again fill our spirits.

Father, God,

Help us to see where we have run ahead of Your plans and done what is displeasing in Your sight. Give us the grace to acknowledge our sins and turn from our selfish ways. Grant that we may always be filled with songs of praise for You.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Something's Missing

Focus verses: 2 Samuel 19:5-23

Murder, mayhem, treachery and deceit. The nation of Israel in anarchy. Today's reading is a chronicle of the political and military aftermath of Absalom's death.

But one thing is missing. Never once does it say David inquired of the Lord. David listens to other advisors, but he doesn't ask the Lord. Without the Lord's guidance, the nation is in distress.

Conspicuously absent also is the evidence of any Psalm coming from this time line. If God inhabits the praises of His people, you'd think that psalms of thanksgiving for the victory or praise of the Lord's deliverance would be in order.

I wonder how much bloodshed could have been avoided had the king asked the Lord's advice rather then man's.

But I digress. The whole point is to ask of the Lord first. We need to be seeking the Lord's will at all times, but most especially when we are in chaos or the aftermath of serious events.

David should have been triumphant. He had won back his place as king of Israel. Things should have been going his way. It would seem that he got caught up in the politics and intrigues without the benefit of God's direction.

We, too, can ge caught up in the moment of experience and forget to seek the Lord. We get advice from everyone on the block, but we fail to avail ourselves of the only advice that counts.

Father, God,

Keep us ever close to You. Remind us of Your presence, and nudge us to seek you at all times. Give us the wisdom to know our limits and the courage to ask and hear from You.
In Jesus' mos precious name.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Nothing Civil About War

Focus verses: 2 Samuel 18:29 - 19:4

David's battles were essentially family battles. David's enemy in this reading was his son, Absalom. The commanders of their armies, Joab and Aman, were cousins. No matter who would win this battle, they all would lose.

David expressly asked his fighting men not to kill Absalom. But when Absalom was found in the tree, Joab killed him. David grieved loudly, openly. And that grief demoralized his own army.

Discord in the family is a no win situation. No matter who wins, everyone loses. This is true not only of Israel, but of our families and the family of God.

Small discords, when allowed to grow, become real battles. Bitterness and hatred abound. Relationships are severed. And God is grieved.

God created mankind for relationship, relationship with Him and with one another. In the best sense, when we are in proper relationship with God, we are also in great relationship with the remainder of the body of Christ, the universal church. While we seldom attain and maintain this state perfectly, we can work toward it consistently.

Father, God,

Help us to see that relationship is more important than self. Grant us the wisdom not to let the sun go down on our anger. Help us to apologize and forgive as needed in order to keep Your family together.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Political Intrigue

Focus verses: 2 Samuel 14:25 - 15:6

The story of Absalom and David is a study in political intrigue. First Absalom is banished from the kingdom. Then he is allowed to return, but denied audience with the king, his father. For two years he waits. Then he is allowed to see the king. And he waits for four more years.

But he wasn't just waiting. During the first two years, he was making sure he looked good to all the land. During the last four years, he was actively campaigning to steal the hearts of Israel. People in general are so impressed with outward appearance, that this was not too hard a job.

But Absalom's purpose was self-aggrandisement, not the glory of God.

Sounds like someone else we know. The enemy of the faithful uses these same tactics. He is content to wait, not making many waves, quietly making himself popular. Then he takes over. When we look around we're surprised to find ourselves down the wrong road.

Our only defense is to be aware of his tactics and learn to look at things from an eternal perspective. If we learn to hear the Holy Spirit, the enemy will not be able to lead us astray.

Father, God,

Tune our eyes and ears to see and hear as You would have us see and hear. Keep us always alert to the wiles of the enemy. Grant that our hearts may always be faithful to You.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Further Consequences

Focus verses: 2 Samuel 14:1, 12-17

Day before yesterday's reading informed David that the sword would never depart from his house because he despised the Lord and took the wife of Uriah, the Hittite.

Today's reading shows those consequences in spades. It tells of Amnon raping Tamar and Absalom taking vengeance and then fleeing the country.

Disobedience to God's law always brings destruction -- destruction of relationships, destruction of peace, or destruction of life. There is, however, good news.

God devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from Him.

Today is Easter Sunday. It is the culmination of God's provision that man be not estranged from Him. Because God cannot look upon sin, He allowed Jesus to die upon the cross for all sin, for all time, and when we believe in Jesus as the Messiah, the Lord of our lives, God doesn't look at our sins, but sees us through the veil of Jesus' righteousness.

The old hymn "Jesus Paid It All" reflects our debt to Him. Today is the commemoration of His resurrection, his triumph over grave and death. Because He lives, we can live also.


Father, God,

Words are inadequate to express our gratitude to You for providing our salvation. We offer You the sacrifice of praise, today. We dedicate our lives to You anew.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Praying For Crop Failure

Focus verses: 2 Samuel 12:18-23

Every action carries within itself the seed of its own reward or punishment. Nathaniel Hawthorne made a note to that effect when he was writing The Scarlet Letter. If you don't remember your high school English class, The Scarlet Letter is a novel about the consequences of actions and the ramifications of covering a sin.

David had some consequences to deal with. Because of his treachery in dealing with Bathsheba and Uriah, the child born to Bathsheba sickened and died. For a week, David fasted and prayed that God would change His mind and save the child. Still the child died.

When the child died, David stopped fasting and praying. The child was gone. Nothing could bring him back.

We all sin from time to time. It's part of the human condition. And when we sin, we'd like to pray successfully for crop failure. Most of the time, it doesn't work. Because every action carries the seed of consequence, we will reap what we sow, more than we sow, at a later date.

True repentance can sometimes bring on a crop failure, but we can't count on that. Our best course of action is to plant only good seed and pray for a bountiful harvest.

Father, God,
Keep us ever mindful that our actions have meaning. Help us remember that we are responsible for the fruits of our actions. Grant us the vision to see the consequences of our actions and the wisdom to avoid those that have negative outcomes.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Offended

Focus verses: Psalm 51

Today's reading is the famous story of David and Bathsheba. David was at home while the army was on campaign. He saw Bathsheba bathing, sent for her, took her to his bed, and sent her home. Just another conquest. However, she became pregnant, so the sin had to be covered another way.

David sent for Uriah, her husband, thinking to get him to lie with his wife, so the child to come might be thought Uriah's. But that didn't work, so he then plotted to be certain that Uriah was killed in battle. That did work. David sent for Bathsheba after the period of mourning and made her his wife.

The Lord sent Nathan, the prophet, to open David's eyes to his sin. It worked. And in response, David wrote Psalm 51. In it he says to the Lord "Against you, and you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight."

Wait a minute! Didn't he sin against Uriah when he had Joab set Uriah in a place to be killed? Didn't he sin against Bathsheba when he sent for her? After all, what woman can say no to the king?

When we transgress God's laws, God is the offended party. We may transgress against others and offend them in the process, but when it comes to forgiveness, there are some sins only God can forgive.

Murder is a sin that only God can forgive completely. For the rest of us, we can learn to let go of vengeance and renounce anger and resentment. But for a forgiveness to be complete, God must say that the sin is excused.

That happens only when the sinner repents and comes to God for forgiveness. When we say we forgive someone, it generally means that we have decided not to exact payment for the sin. We have decided not to harbor anger and resentment. We have let go of the "right" to be avenged or repaid.

The life that was taken belongs to God. It is His prerogative to excuse the offense. But He only does that when the murderer repents and asks for forgiveness. That is the only way to restore the fellowship between God and the sinner. Only God knows the sinner's heart. We dare not arrogate to our selves any privilege that belongs to the Lord.

David rightly says "against thee, and thee only, have I sinned." Every sin must be made right with God first. If it can be made right with man as well, so much the better. But God is the one with whom we must make our peace.

Father, God,

Help us to understand that true forgiveness is the restoration of the relationship between You and the sinner. Give us the wisdom to forego retribution and to renounce anger and resentment. Most of all, keep us aligned with Your will and steadfast to Your statutes.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


Focus Verses: 2 Samuel 6:20-23

Michael was incensed that David had danced before th Ark on its trip to Jerusalem. She considered such behavior beneath his dignity. When she rebuked him, David defended himself saying that he would continue to celebrate before the Lord. He reminded Michael that God has chosen him to succeed her father as king of Israel.

Michael harbored the sin of pride. She was concerned that David had weakened his position as king of Israel by celebrating like a common man. Her snobbery would have David "celebrating" with more dignity than dancing in the street before the Ark.

David, for his part, told her that he would celebrate in whatever manner the Lord told him. He was not ashamed of the Lord nor of his celebratory dancing before the Ark.

David's focus was on the Lord, the things God had done for Israel, and for him. Michael's focus was on the ever-present "what will people think."

We tend to be "people-pleasers" not "God-pleasers." How it looks to the world gets to be very important to us. David's only thought was to please God. That needs to be our focus as well. If we have God's approval, who else's approval matters?

Father, God,

Help us to shape our values with eternity in mind. Draw us closer to You so that we may be called, like David, people after Your own heart. Keep us from looking to other people for approval and grant that we may be heavenly minded in our celebration of who You are.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


Focus verses: Psalm 96

Today's reading tells of David's returning the Ark to the tabernacle he prepared for it. The occasion included music and singing and dancing. David danced at the front of the processions. Saul's daughter, Michael, watched from an upper window and disdained her husband's dancing before the Ark.

Israel was complete. God had come home. Two Psalms grew out of this festival.

Psalm 106 recounts the glory of the Lord and the history of Israel under God's guiding hand.

Bu Psalm 96, oh, Psalm 96 is a paean of glory to the Lord. "Sing to the Lord, all the earth." Feel the ecstatic abandon of just singing to the Lord. Nothing in this world can interfere with the son. The entire earth resonates with His presence. Listen and join in the song.

Sing, yes, sing to the Lord.

Father, God,

Help us to lose ourselves in praise of You. Let us glimpse your glory and majesty. Make us aware of your abiding protective presence. Fill us with the effervescent joy of singing to You.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Lord, My Strength

Focus verses: Psalm 18

David has conquered Jerusalem and taken his place as king of Israel. He has defeated the Philistines again because he consulted with the Lord before undertaking the battle.

Here we have another of David's songs of praise to the Lord. It begins with a declaration of love for the Lord. Then it moves to the Lord's help in adversity.

This Psalm is a favorite because of the Lord's protection in dire circumstances. When the world is bleak and black, the Lord is faithful. In our distress, we call to Him and He hears us. He snatches us out of the hands of the enemy. His power and might reassure us that nothing is more powerful than He.

David ends this Psalm with a paean of praise. The Lord lives! We do not worship a dead idol. Our God is alive and watching out for us.

In times of personal turmoil, the Lord is our rock and our fortress. When we rely on Him, we are victorious over any circumstance.

Father, God,

Thank You for being our rock and our salvation. Remind us always of Your presence and Your love. Keep us ever faithful in our love for You.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Monday, April 6, 2009

A House Divided

Focus verses: 2 Samuel 2:1-10

Life is messy. Even when things are progressing toward fulfilling God's plans, man generally finds a way to complicate the issue.

The nation of Israel had been divided into two nations: Israel and Judah. David was make king over Judah, but God had anointed him to be king over all Israel.

Today's reading encompasses the seven plus years from David's coronation in Judah to his being crowned king of Israel. The passage chronicles a civil war between the house of Saul and David. Filled with treachery murder and revenge, it seems like chaos reigns.

Even when circumstances look bad, God is in control. Our sovereign God gave man free will, so we can mess things up royally, but He will see His plans come to fruition.

David did one thing right. He sought the Lord's counsel before undertaking any actions. He was constantly mindful of God's authority and God's presence. In another place, he is called a man after God's own heart. David sought the heart of God and was content to wait until God brought about His plans.

Father, God,

Imbue us with a hunger for Your heart. Keep us seeking to know You better, to know Your will in all our lives. Grant us the patience to wait upon Your timing, to be content to let You have Your way in our lives.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Witch of Endor

Focus verses: 1 Samuel 28:3-25

Saul's visit to the witch at Endor was the last straw in his fall from God's grace. He had progressed from anointed, to arrogant, to disobedient, to envious, to cruel, to fearful, to divination.

But notice that the first step on that slippery slope was arrogance. He got puffed up with himself. He forgot that God was sovereign, that he held the crown of Israel only at God's pleasure.

He forgot that the primary duty of the child of God is obedience. He second-guessed God at several turns. Then when God stopped speaking to him, he forced the witch to conjure up Samuel.

The witch reminded the men who came to her that Saul himself had forbidden witchcraft and conjuring of spirits. But it was Saul, himself, who was seated before her, asking her to break his own laws. The witch was not the cause of Saul's fall. She was merely the last symptom of his depravity.

We do well to watch ourselves. When you are faithful to God, sometimes the world begins to praise you. If you believe the praise of the world and forget that God is the prime mover for all that you do well, you are in danger of starting down that same path Saul took.

Father, God,

Save us from arrogance and pride. Teach us humility and obedience to Your will and Your words. Tune our ears to hear you so that we are not tempted to seek information from other, less reliable sources.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

A Wise Wife

Focus verses: 1 Samuel 25:1-44

Nabal and Abigail seem to be very unevenly matched. While he is wealthy, he is also surly and mean in dealing with people. Abigail, however, was a beautiful and intelligent woman.

David and his army had protected Nabal's shepherds while they were in the wilderness together. Custom would have dictated a gift from Nabal to David as a courteous thank you. But Nabal had no memory of favors done to him and dismised David's servants out of hand.

Abigail heard of Nabal's rudeness and surliness, so she took the gifts to David herself. Her actions saved a battle and the lives of her husband's men.

David is aware that her actions saved him from taking the Lord's work into his own hands and being disobedient to the Lord. After all, vengeance belongs to God, not man.

We do well to remember that when we take revenge, we have crossed the line. We've entered into God's territory and are in desperate danger of being on the wrong side of God.

Father, God,

Keep us from rash actions. Help us to foresee the consequences of anything we contemplate doing. But most of all, keep us from usurping your privileges to our selves.. Help us redeem the time by praying for those who despitefully use us.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Vision and Perspective

Focus verses: 1 Samuel 24:1-22

The readings from April thus far have chronicled the enmity Saul had for David, and David's escape to various parts of the countryside. But today we see the tables have been turned.

David had hidden deep in a cave when Saul came to use that same cave as a shelter. It seemed that the Lord had delivered Saul into David's hands. But David did Saul no harm. Instead he took a piece of Saul's cloak. When Saul left the cave, David came out of his hiding place and made his presence known. He used the piece of Saul's garment as evidence of his lack of malice toward Saul.

His fidelity to Saul, despite Saul's persecution of him, stemmed from the fact that Saul was still God's anointed king of Israel. Saul's position came from God. David was acutely aware of that fact, and he was willing to bide his time until the Lord should put the crown of Israel on his head.

We would do well to emulate David. He knew that he was to be king at some point, but he was willing to wait upon the Lord's timing for the event.

Too often, we know -- or think we know -- the plans God has for our lives, but we are unwilling to wait upon His timing. Even when circumstances are not unpleasant or even dangerous as they were for David, we grow impatient.

Father, God,

Help us to put our lives into Your perspective. Show us the vision You have for our lives and teach us the patience to wait upon Your timing.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Ceaseless Praise

Focus verses: Psalm 34

Today's reading relates David's exploits while on the run from Saul and includes three psalms. Psalm 34 is a paean of praise. "I will extol the Lord at all times."

That's good advice for all of us. We are told that God inhabits the praises of his people. When we focus on praising God, we put all our problems and troubles into perspective. Nothing that comes against us is larger than God. Nothing can separate us from God against our will.

"A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all." This verse delivers rich comfort. No matter what happens, God has the situation well in hand. Events that rock us to the foundations never surprise Him. He is aware before hand and has made preparation for them all.

David sang to the Lord, frequently -- one might say endlessly. Singing to the Lord is a good habit. When we sing the old hymns, we learn the tenets of our faith, the attributes of God, and the ways of the righteous. When we sing the new praise choruses, we join in an unending stream of praise. Somewhere, someone is singing to the Lord all the time. Or if they're not, they should be.

An unending hymn of praise rising from this blue marble in the universe would go a long way toward correcting the problems we're dealing with in today's world.

Sing praise!

Father, God,

Renew the song in our hearts. Restore to us the joy of our first love of Christ. Make the waters of praise and thanksgiving effervesce within us. Let us be harbingers of joy and thanksgiving. Help us to lift the spirits of all we meet.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Danger Of Thinking

Focus verses: 1 Samuel 18:6-11

David was Saul's servant, living in his household, playing the harp to sooth the fits that came upon him, serving in his army as a warrior. David did nothing to vaunt himself over Saul except to do his duty diligently.

But David's exploits gained him fame with the people, and Saul became jealous. Saul wanted to be the center of attention. He didn't realize that God's spirit had left him in favor of David. God had already decided that David would be king.

Saul's problem began with the big "I". Remember two days ago, when in the reading Saul decided he'd do as he thought, not as the Lord told him. That arrogance that led Saul to believe that he could supercede the Lord's commands was akin to the arrogance on which the serpent played when he tempted Eve to taste the forbidden fruit.

When we substitute "I think" for "the Lord said" we are on shaky ground. We tend to forget that God is infinite, and we are finite. He knows all things; we only know what we can see.

Years ago, I was taught that "JOY" stood for Jesus first, others second, yourself last. It is still a good frame of mind in which to work. If God is first in our lives, we will serve Him, not ourselves. Putting Him first is the pathway to a joy that cannot be stolen.

Father, God,

Save us from "I" trouble. Help us to keep our eyes focused on You. Grant that our obedience to you may be a channel of Your love to all your hurting creation. Convict us of our arrogance and keep us humble.
In Jesus' most precious name.