Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Meaning of Life

Focus verses: Ecclesiastes 12:13,14

Solomon's wisdom is summed up in these two verses. He has gone through it all. Pleasure, pain, work, leisure, poverty, wealth. He has seen it all and done it all. And he comes to this conclusion.

Now all has been heard,
here is the conclusion of the matter.
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the whole duty of man.
For God will bring every deed into judgment,
whether it is good or evil.

Nothing has value except for the eternal. Your obedience to God is your ultimate service and the only thing that will matter in the end. Anything else is just smoke in the wind.

We have daily duties without eternal value, the mundanities of tending the physical realm around us. Meals must be prepared, dishes done, laundry tended, lawns mowed, carpets vacuumed. We could go on and on. But these items are not to consume us.

Fearing God and keeping his commandments should be the substance of our days. That is all that will make a difference in the end.

Father, God,

Keep us ever mindful that You are the focus of our lives. Help us to remain undistracted by the everyday and to focus on You as the center of our lives.
In Jesus' most precious name.

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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Finite or Infinite

Focus verse: Ecclesiastes 11:5

As you do not know the path of the wind,
or how the body is formed in a mother's womb,

so you cannot understand the work of God,
the Maker of all things.

As we study, we can succumb to the arrogance of the intellect. That is the spirit that says I'm as smart as anybody else. Anything anyone else knows, I can know, too. We are treading on thin ice here.

Lets go back the garden. The arrogance of the intellect was what got Eve into trouble in the first place. Look at the progression of the original sin. (Genesis 3:1-6)

The serpent was crafty. He started with a question: Did God really say...?
Eve answered him with God's words, and then the serpent called God a liar. What gall!
And Eve, with the arrogance of learning something new, believed the father of lies.

Man, who had been given dominion over this world, ceded that dominion to the father of lies. And the world has never been the same.

We are in danger of believing that same lie. That God isn't big enough; we can be in charge. When that happens, the enemy can tempt us to all kinds of wrong and foolish actions.

We need to remember that God is more than we can understand. There is no way we can wrap our finite little minds around all the wisdom and knowledge of an infinite God.

Father, God,

Keep us hungry for more of you and less of the world's "wisdom." Lead us to study to show ourselves approved in knowledge of Your ways and keep us from the "wisdom" of this world.
In Jesus' most precious name.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

To What Purpose

Focus verses: Ecclesiastes 2:1-11

Solomon talks about pleasure and work in this passage. In verses 1-3 he talks about giving himself over to pleasure. He give himself over to laughter, wine, and folly -- all the while assuring himself of his wisdom. But this pleasure and his mortal wisdom were not sufficient.

Then he talks of his achievements: the buildings he constructed, the fields he filled, the people he acquired as slaves, musicians, and harem. He tells that he became greater than anyone in Jerusalem. And it was all fluff and feathers - or as he puts it "chasing after the wind."

Living in Kansas, we know about the wind. Sometimes it's still, but more often it is a moving force. It dries out sodden fields or tears up buildings and trees. It caresses or destroys. It makes the golden wheat ripen faster or makes it impossible to drive a semi on an east-west highway.

It is random and purposeless. If it does something helpful, it was purely by accident. If it destroys a city, it is just a happenstance. This is the kind of randomness Solomon saw in all his activities.

Nothing was accomplished. Nothing had meaning. It was all just nothing.

Notice that not once did he mention God in this passage. None of this was accomplished with God's direction. Nothing had any meaning in the plans of God, because Solomon did not consult God when he did all these things.

Without God's direction, all activity is purposeless -- a chasing the wind. Lord, deliver us from that kind of futility.

Father, God,

Help us to remember to consult You at all times. Give us the wisdom to ask what You would have us do, how You would have us spend our days, what You would have us accomplish under Your direction.
In Jesus' most precious name.

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Wisdom and Folly

Focus verses: Ecclesiastes 2:12-16

These verses are the musings of a man who has seen and done much. He sounds just a little jaded, as if he'd been studying existentialism. You have to look long and hard to find the wisdom in what he's saying, sometimes. But there is wisdom there, none the less.

Most telling is the verse that says: "What more can the king's successor do than what has already been done?" I wonder if this isn't the point where he got off base with the Lord.

Solomon had been everywhere and done everything. He had every material possession that a person could want.

It reminds me of a Dennis the Menace cartoon. Christmas Day. Toys are piled all around a room that is drowning in wrapping paper. And Dennis, with that open, innocent, wide-eyed look says: "Is this all?"

When we have all the world can offer, we wonder. Is this all? Happily, the answer is no. There is an eternal plane where things are different.

If man were just an animal, this life is all there is. Man was created a little lower than the angels, in the image of God. There is more. There is an eternal destiny for all of us.

The good news and the bad news is this. God gave man a free will and the right to choose. We are in charge of that destiny. Our decisions determine our future. Can we choose wisely?

Father, God,

Grant us the wisdom to choose wisely for our lives. Help us to see the consequences of our actions before we commit to them.
In Jesus' most precious name.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Faded Glory

Focus verses: I Kings 11:1-13

Solomon had it made! He had asked for wisdom from the Lord and received it. Because he asked for wisdom, not wealth or strength or power, God not only gave him the wisdom, but all the rest besides. What could possibly go wrong?

Well there is this small matter of disobedience. Against God's explicit instructions, Solomon married and married and married. He had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines. The number, however, is not the problem.

He married some from nations where the Lord had explicitly told the Israelites not to intermarry because the wives would turn the Israelites' hearts from the Lord to their own gods.

We don't know exactly what happened to Solomon as he grew older. Perhaps he wasn't as diligent to follow the Lords commands. Perhaps he became arrogant with his wisdom and decided that he was the exception to God's dictates.

Perhaps he simply took things for granted to the extent that he no longer had an appreciation of the blessings of God and failed to heed the message of God. He, with all his wisdom, chose an unwise course of action: marrying women from nations which God had forbidden intermarriage.

Whatever the pathway, he disobeyed. But notice this. He will not have the kingdom wrenched from him. That will be done to his sons! He has, in effect, disinherited his own children.

Consequences for actions are not always immediate. Sometimes they are delayed for generations. But actions have inescapable consequences. We need to keep this firmly in mind when we make our decisions about what to do.

Father, God,

Keep us ever mindful of the rich blessings You have bestowed upon us. Help us to remain faithful to Your precepts. Grant that we may see the consequences of our choices, no matter how far down the road the consequences are hidden.
In Jesus' most precious name.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Focus verses: Psalm 127

Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.

Before undertaking any project, it is wise to consult with God. If it's something He has in mind, you can be assured of it's success. If it isn't according to His plans, it will come to nothing much.

God, in fact, is the sovereign of the universe. Nothing happens to surprise Him.
When we are disobedient, He allows us to reap the fruit of our own actions.
When we are obedient, He allows us to reap the fruit of our own actions.

If you are a farmer, you know that when you plant a seed, you reap the same kind of plant you sowed. You don't plant wheat and get corn. If you plant wheat, you reap wheat. If you plant corn, you get corn.

As a farmer, you also hope to get more than you planted. If you plant a bushel of wheat on each acre, you don't want to reap just one bushel off each acre. Some years you get thirty bushels, some years you get fifty. And on a really good year, you get a hundred bushels an acre. (Are you hearing echoes of Matthew 13:23?)

If you are hoping for a bumper crop, wouldn't it pay to plant the seed God had in mind?

Father, God,

Remind us that You are the author of all good, that we can do nothing good without You. Keep us close under Your guiding hand in all we say or do.
In Jesus' most precious name.

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Monday, May 25, 2009

The Ideal Woman

Focus verses: Proverbs 31:10-31

If you are a woman, these verses are either an encouragement or a stumbling block. You can beat your head against a brick wall, trying to do and be all these things under your own power. Or you can rely on the Lord to help you become this woman of worth.

God doesn't set a task before us that is impossible to accomplish to frustrate us. He sets these tasks to teach us to rely on Him for all things.

There is a difference between the nominal Christian, who simply believes in God but tries to do everything under his own power, and the committed Christian who is consciously dependent upon God for every breath.

When you realize that you have come to the end of yourself, it is time to rely on God. The wise person realizes in the first place that he or she is inadequate to the task at hand and turns to the Lord immediately.

My grandmother used to say "before all else fails, read the instructions." Before you try everything else, ask God. He wants you to come to Him for the least things as well as for the huge issues. When you consult Him before any action, the action you take has a greater chance of success.

Father, God,

Help us to remember that without You, we are less than nothing. You are responsible for our every breath. Keep us aware of our dependence on You that we may not fail in our tasks.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Parents and Children

Focus verses: Proverbs 23:22-25

God has specific ideas about what makes a family. In these verses, we hear the duties of a child. Listen to your father and revere your mother. He assumes that there is a father and a mother in the house.

There is no alternative lifestyle here.

He tells the child to get truth, wisdom, discipline and understanding,

The truth is that there is objective right and wrong. There are absolutes.

Wisdom says you will learn the difference between right and wrong, that you will adhere to the right and eschew the wrong.

Discipline says you will keep your behaviors under control, acquiescing to the will of the Father.

Understanding means that you acknowledge the consequences of your actions, that you expect every action to carry the seeds of its own reward or punishment.

As a nation, we seem to have forgotten these principles. We have taught our young people situation ethics, a concept which says that sometimes something is right and other times it isn't, depending on the circumstances. Teaching our children this is something akin to building on quicksand.

We need to return to the rock of truth. Our children need to know about absolutes, about truth, about consequences, lest our world perish entirely.

Father, God,

Return us to the truth of Your precepts. Help us to teach our youth so that they have the steady foundation of Your truth on which to build their lives.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Minding Your Business

Focus verses: Proverbs 27:23-27

Today's readings talk about prosperity and diligence, and laziness and poverty. The general thought is that diligence brings prosperity and laziness leads to poverty.

Our focus passage, however, talks about tending to what you have, taking good care of what is yours right now. The thought is that if you tend to what is, more will come. But if you neglect what you have, it will dissipate to nothing.

This principle holds true for other areas of life as well as the flocks and herds mentioned here.

If you maintain your house, repainting and repairing when needed, it will last forever. If you defer that maintenance, it will fall down around your ears.

Your personal relationships require constant maintenance. You can't risk taking friends and family for granted. And you certainly can't risk it with God.

Father, God,

Help us to appreciate what You have given us. Keep us on track to be faithful stewards of all your gifts to us.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Friday, May 22, 2009


Focus verses: Proverbs 6:16-19

This is one of the scariest passages in scripture. It enumerates things the Lord hates. And if we examine ourselves carefully, we find we have probably transgressed on at least one of these.

As a nation we are doubly guilty. We shed innocent blood in the name of choice. Our world is full of deception and wickedness. Our nation has become party to all these evils.

We cannot believe that the Lord will just wink at these things. We have seen how He dealt with the nation of Israel when they were faithless. We must turn this nation around to follow His precepts lest similar ills befall us s well.

We, the Christians, are called upon to pray for our country and its leaders. The prayers of no one else will be sufficient.

As followers of Christ, we must examine ourselves, confess our shortcomings, and be in constant prayer for this land that we love.

Father, God,

Have mercy on our land. Help us to right the wrongs we have done as a nation. Keep us on our knees in prayer for change.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Power of the Tongue

Focus verses: Proverbs 18:20, 21

Today's reading is all about speech, appropriate speech and inappropriate speech. The tongue is a small member of the body, but it has great power.
My son, if your heart is wise,
then my heart will be glad,
my inmost being will rejoice
when your lips speak what is right.
Your lips can speak foolishness bringing all kinds of adverse consequences. If you speak wickedness many ills can befall you including the destruction of the city.

Flattery, slander, gossip, hurtful talk, quarreling, lying, all are condemned in today's reading. How many of us have said something in the heat of a moment that we wished we could "un-say."
It doesn't happen. Once a word is spoken and heard, it is forever in the memory of the hearer.

The closing verse for today says:
The tongue has the power of life and death,
and those who love it will eat its fruit.
My grandmother used to say: "Let your words be sweet and tender; you never know when you may have to eat them."

Father, God,

Grant us the wisdom to speak only those things which are healing, uplifting, beautiful, profitable, honorable, and reverent. Help us to tame the wild tongue.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Focus verse: Proverbs 29:11

A fool give full vent to his anger,
but a wise man keeps himself under control.

We all know people who have short fuses on their tempers. It takes very little for them to fly into a rage. Generally that rage is blind. They cannot see the source of their discontent and have no idea how to correct the problem. They simply vent their bile.

Anger, especially explosive anger, is desperately counter-productive. The body reacts to anger with an increased heart rate, an inability to hear correctly, and a release of hormones for the "fight or flight" response.

A self-controlled person, on the other hand, keeps a cool head. He is not blinded by rage, so he can look at options to correct the issue. His blood is not roaring in his ears, so he can hear carefully and correctly. His hormones are note channeling him into an "either/or" situation, so he can look a t a group of alternatives to find the best course of action among several choices. Most of all, if he is calm and quiet, he can hear the still small voice of the Holy Spirit directing him.

In this day, we need people who can stay calm and analytical in looking at circumstances. We need people who can read and research to find the most effective course of action in any situation. We need people who can listen for the leading of the Lord.

Father, God,

Help me to control my emotions. Let me not be tempted to rash action and unprofitable speech. Keep me under the control of Your Holy Spirit at all times, so that I may hear Your leading.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Lamp of the Lord

Focus verse: Proverbs 20:27

The lamp of the Lord searches the spirit of a man;
it searches out his inmost being.

In Genesis, the opening of creation is God's "let there be light." it is not only the beginning of creation, it is the beginning of our understanding of ourselves.

When we allow God to shine the light of His love into the dark corners of our hearts, we learn what we've hidden there. Sometimes we find our sins - of omission or commission - that we've left un-repented. And seeing them, we are given the opportunity to repent and set things right.

Sometimes we find the dregs of discouragement or disillusionment. In the light of God's love we can see them for what they are - temporary setbacks designed to grow our faith and patience muscles.

Occasionally we find the scars of hurts and injuries we've suffered in the past. Perhaps they are inflamed and swollen because we've not completely forgiven the offender, but simply stuffed the emotions. God's light can help us to see the offender through His eyes - as a beloved child who has strayed.

When we cooperate with God's investigation of our spirit, we are enriched. He doesn't search our hearts to be informed. He searches our hearts to inform us.

Father, God,

Shine the light of Your love in my heart today. Help me to see those things that You would have me see and to correct those things You would have me correct.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Truth Will Out

Focus verse: Proverbs 10:9

The man of integrity walks securely,
bur he who takes crooked paths will be found out.

Eventually everything comes to light. We see this everyday in the headlines. People's underhanded dealings eventually are exposed to public scrutiny.

This political bigwig has taken money from special interest groups.

That public figure has had an illicit affair and fathered a child.

A financial officer is caught with his hand in the till.

All these people thought they could engage in illicit activity and remain anonymous. No one would ever find out. They were deceiving themselves more than anyone else.

God has promised that the truth will come out. We just read it here. We can be sure that if the Lord says it, it is true. Eventually, all will be made known. That's a scary thought if you've been trying to hide things.

Father, God,

Help us to walk in integrity. Keep us from deceptive practices and thoughts, and let us become the righteous people you intended for us to be.
In Jesus' most precious name.

PS. You might check out this link. I found it interesting

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Fear and Wisdom

Focus verses: Proverb s 1:1-7

The purpose of the proverbs is education -- for attaining wisdom and discipline, for understanding words of insight. My grandmother used to say "experience is a dear school, but a fool will learn in no other."

Proverbs are short truths drawn from long experience. When we learn from other people's experience, we take ourselves out of the category of "fool" and put ourselves into the category of disciple.

Fool here doesn't mean just silly or someone to laugh at. Fool in this context means perverse as well. Perverse: stubborn, hardheaded.

At one point, the Lord calls the children of Israel "a stiffnecked people." Stiffnecked: proud, stubborn, perverse. it wasn't a compliment.

A teachable, humble spirit is the mark of a true follower of Christ. While we know what we know, we are always ready to learn more of the Lord.

Father, God,

Keep us from pride and stubbornness. Help us to be hungry to know more of You. Grant us a teachable spirit.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Discerning Wisdom

Focus verses: Proverbs 2: 6-15

The wise words of Solomon are as true today as they were the day they were written down.

Here, wisdom is a prize greatly to be desired. You can get it from God, and implied is the thought from God only.

Seeking wisdom from the Lord, you can be certain that he will guard your steps so that you will not fall into bad company.

Note please, that wisdom will enter your heart. It is not just a function of the intellect, but is also a function of the emotions. When you have wisdom, you can follow what we've called "that gut feeling" with confidence.

Wisdom will keep your feet on the secure path. All other paths will lead to destruction and dishonor, but wisdom will keep you on the Lord's path, walking in His ways.

Solomon asked the Lord for wisdom and was given wealth and honor and power as a result of his wisdom.

Father, God,

Grant us Your wisdom so that we may walk in Your ways and become more and more Your children.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

My People

Focus verses: II Chronicles 7:11-22

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

This promise from God is our only hope at this time in our history. I cringe when I think we have a president who states openly that we are not a Christian nation. This nation was founded by Christians on Judeo-Christian principles.

For forty years, we have taught revisionist history in our public schools. We have vaunted the sensational over the accurate. We allow the media hype to sway our opinions without studying the issues to discover the truth. Worst of all, we have grown lukewarm about defending our faith. We are silent and almost apologetic when Christianity is under attack.

Our only hope lies in following the precepts in this verse:
If my people who are called by my name--that's us, the Christians.
Will humble themselves and pray and seek my face -- notice the progression: humility, prayer, seeking.
And turn from their wicked ways -- quit aiding, abetting and tolerating evil.

If we do all these things, in this order, we have the promise of God that He will hear and forgive our sin, and heal our land.

Notice that He says the sin is ours, meaning belonging to the people called by his name. It is our sins of apathy and tolerance that need forgiveness, not the sins of the worldly who do not belong to Him.

Father, God,

Grant us the courage to see the ungodly attacks on Christianity as disrespect for you. Give us the wisdom to speak up for our faith effectively.
In Jesus' most precious name.

A Firm Foundation

Focus verses: I Kings 8:54-61

"Not one word has failed" Solomon's benediction on the people of Israel tells us what we can rely upon, have relied upon, will continue to rely upon. The word of the Lord is the firm foundation on which any of our hopes and aspirations can safely be built.

Without that foundation, all our hopes and dreams are just so much smoke on the breeze. But with this foundation, we can build the most wonderful castles, not in the air, but on the ground.

Anything we can think of is within our grasp, if we stop and apply the word of the Lord. When we want to do something, we should stop and ask "Is this consistent with the teachings of the Lord?"
If it is, we can safely proceed. If not, we need to stop and move on to another project.

Not one word has failed of the promises He made to Israel. Not one word will fail of the remainder of His promises to us. We can safely build on the firm foundation of God's Word.

Father, God,

Your faithfulness to us in all generations has overwhelmed us. Keep us faithful to You in the same way You are faithful to Your word.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Focus verses: I Kings 6:11-13

God promises Solomon that He will never abandon His people Israel. What a wonderful assurance!

When we believe in God and follow His precepts, God will not abandon us. However, when we abandon God, He allows us to reap the fruit of our own actions. It may feel like He is far away, but He never moves. We do.

Our closeness with God depends on our being faithful to His commands, singing His praises, and watching for the signs of His presence in our lives.

When we find ourselves drifting away, we can do one of two things. We can continue to drift like so much flotsam, or we can turn back to Him. He is faithful and unchanging. We're the fickle and flighty ones.

He waits for us with open arms, eager to restore us to His favor. We need not disappoint Him.

Father, God,

Thank You for remaining faithful to us, even when we are errant children. We are grateful for Your forgiving heart. Help us to remain steadfast in our love for You.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Solomon Is King

Focus verse: I Kings 2:46

Solomon's kingdom was firmly established.

Solomon was a wise man by nature. There were factors in the kingdom that he had to eliminate. There were other things that he had to embrace.

This is true of those who would follow Jesus as well. When we become Christians, there are things we need to cut out of our lives. We break some habits that are counterproductive. We leave off socializing with people who would draw us away from our fidelity to Christ.

By the same token, there are new things that we need to add to our lives. There will be mentors and friends from this new way of living. We need to be open to the changes that God will make in our lives.

When something new comes along, we need to evaluate it in light of our relationship with Christ. If it helps us to stay true to our faith in Christ, it is something we need to adopt. If it draws us away from our faith in Christ, we need to cut it from our lives, lest we be drawn away from the faith we profess.

Father, God,

Grant us the wisdom to see what is beneficial and what is detrimental to our faith. Give us the courage to embrace the beneficial, and help us to rid our lives of the detrimental.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Discipline Your Children

Focus verses: First Kings 1:5-10

Adonijah was David's son born next after Absalom. We are told that he was good looking and that his father had never interfered with whatever he wanted to do. In other words, he was a spoiled child, never disciplined.

Good looking children have a handicap. People make a fuss over them when they are small and tend not to scold them "because they're so cute." Even when they make mischief, it's excused away.

When my son was small, he was very cute. He looked like a little elf, hair as gold as dead-ripe wheat, eyes as blue as an Irish lake, a sprinkling of freckles, and a grin that could light up an underground cavern.

He was about two years old when we were in the grocery store check out lane. Like every two-year-old I've ever known, his arms were rubbery enough to stretch to every candy bar and chewing gum package lining that aisle. I took both his hands into mine as I told him "no" and placed them on the handle of the grocery cart beneath my own hands.

A lovely great-grandmotherly type behind me said "He's so cute! How can you scold him?"

"He's so cute, how dare I not?" was my response.

Children need to grow up with a sense of responsibility, not entitlement. Adonijah wanted the glory of the kingship, he didn't have the stomach to behave as a king. When Solomon was crowned by David, Adonijah withered on the vine.

Undisciplined people don't have the perserverance to see things through to the end.

Father, God,

Help us to be Your disciplined children and to discipline our old children to Your ways. Give us the patience and endurance to perservere to the end.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Exultant Joy

Focus verses: Psalm 47

It is fitting that the last day of psalms includes this beautiful paean of praise to the Lord. When we consider all the attributes of our God, this psalm enumerates most of them.

It calls Him awesome, great, sovereign, holy, exalted, ruler of kings.

If we think about it, He is awesome in His might and power. Nothing can stand before Him or against Him. But as great as His power is, He chooses to be involved in our lives.

His fondest wish is to have a personal relationship with us. He created Adam for just such a purpose. He and Adam walked and talked together in the garden in the cool of the evening. Adam's sin - and Eve's - put a barrier between God and man.

God was not content to move out and be a distant observer of our lives. He sent His son, Jesus, to be the perfect sacrifice to atone for our sins. To die in our place, so that we could be reunited with God through faith in Jesus.

This is the reason we shout with joy, the reason we clap our hands and sing His praises. He is our hope and our salvation. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Father, God,

Thank You for caring about us, for being so involved in our lives that You made a way of reconciliation between You and us. Help us to keep Your praises ever on our lips.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Crux of the Matter

Focus verses: Psalm 22:15-18

In today's reading we see one of the most vivid foreshadowings of the Messiah in scripture.

These four verses seem to bring us to the foot of the cross of Jesus. I am poured out like water. He has become our drink offering, poured out for our sins.

We are taken through the physical traumas that the Lord experienced on the cross, through the throngs of evil men around Him, clear to the casting of lots for his garments.

God gave David a vision, the words of this psalm. A picture of our salvation.

Our salvation was sealed at the foot of the cross of Christ. Without it, we have no offering to God. Jesus became our sin offering so that we could come to God without any other mediator. It is through Jesus, and Jesus only, that we can come to the Father with the assurance that He sees us only through the saving blood of Christ.

Father, God,

Help us to remember the price of our redemption. Make us mindful of the enormity of Your love for us and the sacrifice of Jesus. Keep us humble and unassuming when we come to You with our prayers.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Guard Your Tongue

Focus verses: Psalm 141

David knew the power of words. In this psalm he asks the Lord to set a guard over his mouth and keep watch over the door of his lips.

The tongue is a small thing, but it wields enormous power. With it we can bless or curse. We can change opinions with our rhetoric. We can move nations with our oratory.

But the tongue is a treacherous member. It sometimes flies off with the quick retort or the supposedly witty repartee. Generally those quick lines are hurtful or sarcastic in order to make us look superior or smart.

David was wise in asking the Lord to set a guard over his lips. We can do the same. In addition, we can apply this sage advice.

Before you are tempted to say something ask yourself three questions.

Is it true? Can you verify it of your own knowledge? If not, don't say it.
Is it kind? Does it put someone else in an unfavorable light? Speak only what is kind.
Is it needful? If it isn't absolutely necessary, don't say it.
Philippians:4:8: Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
Think on these things. Speak only of these things.

Father, God,

Help us to watch our speech and guard our tongues. We surrender our words to Your direction. Give us words that heal, not harm.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Fool

Focus verses: Psalm 53

"There is no God." These are the words of the fool.

But we seem to have a whole society of fools. People run after wealth and possessions and power. We live as if God did not exist. We flout His laws and do abominable things.

When the consequences of our sins are upon us, we whine "why me?" We never stop to think that every action carries within itself the seed of its own reward or punishment.

Because God is a faithful parent, He never stands between a child and the consequences of his own actions. Children learn safe paths and acceptable behavior by the natural process of actions and consequences.

Of course, if we see a child on the highway in the middle of traffic, we pull him out. But we also admonish him about the dangers of playing in traffic. And he may lose a privilege as a consequence of his disobedience.

God has warned us about the consequences of actions. He has given us specific directions about what is and is not acceptable in His sight. We cannot sow the wind and not reap the whirlwind.

Just like any faithful parent, God grieves over those who go astray. Let us resolve never to grieve God.

Father, God,

You have given us an illuminated path to follow. Keep us faithful to your laws and let us not stray from the path you have given us. Help us not to grieve You.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Confession Is Good For The Soul

Focus verses: Psalm 32

Did you ever keep a guilty secret? Were you in constant fear of being found out?

David knows how you feel. Listen to his descriptions. I kept silent and my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. A guilty secret eaats at your inmost being.

David knows the heaviness of God's hand upon him. His little escapade with Bathsheba put him aat odds with the Lord. When he discovered that illicit liason had produced a child he connived first to deceive Uriah and then to have him killed.

But David realized that his sin was against God and confessed that and was restored.

When we find our selfes distant from God, we need to examine ourselves - and make confession - and be restored to His good graces.

Father, God,

Help us to keep short accounts with our consciences and with you. Be quick to show us the errors of our ways so that we can confess our sins and be reconciled to you.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Our All-Knowing God

Focus verses: Psalm 139

Among the psalms, this is one of my favorites. God is intimately acquainted with us. He knows us, warts and all. And He still loves us.

Nothing we do is hidden from the Lord. He knows what we think before we say it. He has made provision for our every circumstance before we get to that circumstance.

The most important section of this psalm for me, however, is verses 13-16. God created the essence of who I am. He was familiar with every cell and atom of my body as it was growing in utero. And He cared about me even then -- when I was merely "a blob of tissue."

He knows my future. He knew my last breath before I took the first one. He is in charge of my ending, just as he was in charge of my beginning.

A friend and I talked about this. She said it was arrogance for a couple to think that they decided on having children. The child is conceived when God calls the child by name to "come forth."

Think of it. Hear the majesty of it. "Insert your own name here, come forth!" You have been called of God, called into existence, called for a purpose. Have you found His purpose for which you were called?

Father, God,

Search us and know our hearts. Speak to our spirits the call You have on our lives. Direct us in your paths and show us Your ways, that we may walk in them.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Antiphonal Litany

Focus verses: Psalm 136

When we read the psalms, we sometimes forget that they are not poetry but songs. This was a song designed to be sung with a cantor and a congregation. Listen to it as music.

The cantor sings "Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good."
And the people respond "His love endures forever."

And the cantor sings again - and again - and again, listing the attributes of God, and His saving deeds on Israel's behalf one by one. The people respond again - and again - and again, "His love endures forever."

Hear the assurance in this psalm. God's love endures forever.

Why is the response not something like "His majesty is sovereign?" That is also a true statement. Or try "His power and might are great." Or "No foe can stand against Him." See how those substitutions change the focus of the song.

No, "His love endures forever." That is a blessed assurance.

Father, God,

We thank you that Your love endures forever. We have no claim on Your love except that You love freely. And You ask only that we show our love for You by obedience to Your statues -- which were instituted for our benefit in the first place. Thank You Lord.
In Jesus' most precious name.

This psalm is a testament to God's love for His people, Israel. In old testament times, it was literally the children of Israel God loved

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Only Perfection

Focus verses: Psalm 119: 89-104

Today's reading is the single Psalm 119. It is an acrostic psalm, each verse beginning with a diffrent letter of the Hebrew alphabet in order. This may have been done as a memorization device.

I particularly like the thirteenth stanza. It begins with the Hebrew letter Mem. On the website named Hebrew for Christians, I learned that this thirteen letter of the Hebrew alphabet and signifies... Well, you can look it up for yourself in the link.

To all perfection I see a limit; but your commands are boundless. We can try for perfection, and perhaps even succeed in small areas. But the totality of our lives is quite different. We have all sinned and fallen short. Perfection seems totally out of reach.

Ah, but learning the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night, tasting the sweetness of obedience to God's law. These lead us closer to perfection.

Our daily goal should be to come closer and closer to perfection. We'll never attain to it completely. But it is better to aim for perfection and fall short than to simply allow sin to rule in our lives.

Father, God,

You are the only perfection in all creation. Draw us ever closer to You by settling your laws in our hearts and helping us to come closer and closer to keeping them all. We would be as much like you as possible. Let our lives reflect you in all we do and say.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Grandmothers Assurance

Psalm 103

I love this psalm!

We praise God for who He is, not for what He has done, but this psalm reminds us of all that He has done for us.

Forgiveness, healing, redemption, love, satisfaction,and perpetual youth. And that's just in the first stanza. The most amazing thing is His love for us - His graciousness towards us.

His unfailing love for us can be the foundation of all our beliefs. He mentions it again in John 3:16. Read it, but insert your name for "the world" and "whosoever." This is personal. God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.
The Lord's love is with those who fear him and his righteousness with their children's children--with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.
This is His promise to grandparents. He promises to love my grandchildren. His love is unfailing to all generations.

Father, God,

Help us to train up our children and our children's children in Your law and Your love. Keep us faithful stewards of Your righteousness.
In Jesus' most precious name.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Lord Reigns

Focus verses: Psalm 93

Sometimes, in the God loves everyone frenzy of the moment, we forget that our God is majestic, awe-inspiring, totally indescribable.

This psalm reminds us that He is stronger that the sea whose roaring waves speak of his might and power. The vast sweep of the ocean reminds us of His infinite power and majesty.

The psalms have told us that all of nature speaks forth his sovereignty. We saw it in the lightning and storm. We heard about it in the voice of the heavens.

And in Psalm 8, the psalmist says "What is man, that thou art mindful of him?" What, indeed, can the creator of the universe want with us? He is regal; we are ordinary. He is powerful; we are puny. He is all knowing; we struggle along with guesses, hints, and gut reactions.

What can we do but stand in complete awe?

Father, God,

Through Your son, Jesus, You have invited us into fellowship with You. Help us never to forget that while You have deigned to come to us, You are still the Master and Creator of the Universe.
In Jesus' most precious name.