Monday, August 31, 2015


Psalm 12:6           And the words of the LORD are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times.

A psalm of confidence

The basic evidence of disloyalty to Christ is not the way people respond to God. It is most evident in the way they treat their neighbors. To be disloyal to Christ is to be two-faced when dealing with other Christians or one’s neighbor. Disloyalty means speaking in flattering tones while having a heart of selfishness and greed. Biblical religion is intensely human.   

Sincerity and truth are extremely valuable because they are so rare. They are rare because few people today truly trust in God with their daily lives and in their relationships. Were people trusting God in all corners of their lives, sincerity and truth would be prevalent. When someone fully trusts in God then human relationships are no longer frightening and dangerous. People can do nothing to us if God has not already ordained it.

Many people are deceivers, liars, flatterers; they think they can only get what they want by deception. As a king, David faced his share of such people who hoped to win his favor and gain advancement through flattery. Deception allows such people to gain the things in life that they want for themselves. They may speak of “righteous” motives but the benefits they seek are for personal gain.

When we feel as though sincerity and truth have disappeared from the world, we still have one hope, God. He does not change. His Word comforts and guides us daily. They are “flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times.”

Sunday, August 30, 2015


Psalm 11:1            In the Lord I take refuge. How then can you say to me: “Flee like a bird to your mountain.
A psalm of confidence

“Wanna get away?” That has been the slogan for Southwest Airlines. When the rat race gets too fast, hop a flight out of town and off to paradise you go. Our culture has become a treadmill for everyone. They once said that the towns in the south were slow paced. And I suppose many rural towns around the entire country are slower paced. But no matter where you live there seems to be a sense of busyness that no one can hide from. So how can a person slow down, catch their breath and relax from the day to day stresses of life?

The psalmist reminds us of a very important fact. To find rest and relaxation is never about finding a place to flee to. You can take off to the beach with your cell phone or laptop computer and find no rest. A day at the spa lasts eight hours and then you return home. An afternoon at the ball game or your favorite fishing hole both last only a few hours. Then you are back to home and life continues. The psalmist does not teach us of any place we can go to.

He does tell us that when life is crazy there is someone we can go to. God is the person, not a place, to whom we can retreat and find comfort in our times of need. God is always in control of the world around us. He alone can calm the daily seas that buffet us.

          When the foundation of your life is shaking and you wish you could fly away, remember that God is still the one whom you can go to.  His power is not affected by any difficulties or events in your life. Nothing happens without him knowing or without his permission. When you feel like flying away, fly to Him. He will restore you with a peace that passes all our understanding.

Saturday, August 29, 2015


Psalm 10:4-6           In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. His ways are always prosperous he is haughty and your laws are far from him; he sneers at all his enemies. He says to himself, “Nothing will shake me; I’ll always be happy and never have trouble.”

A psalm of lament

Pride is such a subtle and deceitful thing. Persecution can be subtle, but most often it is quite open and evident. Overconfidence knows no bounds and bullies others into submission. Pride, persecution and overconfidence are all rampant in the world today. The reason for the strife and suffering we see is these three demons of men. Such character traits are evident in the person who rejects the fact of God’s existence.

Accountability comes to mind when we speak of someone who has no belief in God. For this person there is no moral standard for which we all should submit. Without a universal standard people are then open to follow any standard for moral actions they so choose. The result is what we often say “anything goes”. Pride says that my happiness and desires are the ultimate determiner of my future and my contentment. I am accountable to no one but myself and to the standards I have set for me.

Without accountability then other people are merely obstacles or avenues to my self-fulfillment. I can do to them whatever I so choose because my plans, my happiness and my moral compass are all that matter, to me. Persecution becomes an instrument to be wielded for my purposes and for my benefit. People become tools and tools can be worn out or broken, if necessary.

Overconfidence is the fulfillment of pride and persecution. I can do anything, and no one can stop me. There is no God since my actions and beliefs have not been stopped. No one has challenged by approach to life with anything more credible or successful. Such a view of self and the world leaves a person saying to himself, “I’ll always be happy and never have trouble”. Never say never!

Friday, August 28, 2015


Psalm 9:9-10            The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.

A psalm of confidence

All of us want God to help us when we are in trouble, but often for different reasons. Some want God's help so that they will be successful and other people will like them. Others want God's help so that they will be comfortable and feel good about themselves. David, however, wanted help from God so that justice would be restored to Israel and so that he could show others God's power. When you call to God for help, consider your motive. Is it to save you pain and embarrassment or to bring God glory and honor?

David knew that God gave him help in beating his enemies. God had judged David right and his enemies wrong. God is always overseeing the nations and the lives of people. Many people find this hard to believe, but it is true. Often times it takes a long time for His righteous judgment to unfold in the affairs of men. But God’s will is always fulfilled.

While we wait for Him, what can we do? We can look for the LORD; he will find us. We can trust in the LORD; he will help us. We can hide in the LORD; he will make us safe. When this happens we will find ourselves praising the LORD and telling others about Him.

Thursday, August 27, 2015


Psalm 8:1   O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

A psalm of thanksgiving

In school as a child I saw pictures of the Grand Canyon in Arizona when reading through a National Geographic magazine. They depicted a colorful and marvelous scene of rock formations and deep valleys. As the sun rose or set over this canyon the immense nature of the area was made more vivid. The pictures were marvelous.

A few years ago I had the opportunity to visit the Grand Canyon in person. As I drove to the park area I passed through forested flat lands. There were no mountains to speak of. The area was generally flat and without much scenery. Winding through the park I came to the parking lot and began to walk through the trees to the edge. As I cleared the trees the Grand Canyon overwhelmed me. The presence of this marvelous landscape was literally breathtaking. To say I was awed by the scene is an understatement. For God to have created such scenery is a reflection of His grandeur and majesty.

God has ordained such created things in the world to bring Himself praise from His creatures, from you and I. When we come to know Him we find life more majestic and awe-filled. With the eyes of children, Christians can only marvel at His greatness and His goodness to us each day.

           The psalmist reminds us of this aspect of God awesomeness and majesty. As children we are able to trust and praise God without doubts or reservations. As we get older, many of us find this more and more difficult to do. We lose something of this grandeur of God. But He remains awesome in spite of our failure to notice. Ask God to give you childlike faith, removing any barriers to having a closer walk with him. Get in touch with this childlike quality in yourself so that you can be more awe inspired of His majesty and grandeur each day of your life.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


Psalm 7:10-11        My shield is God Most High, who saves the upright in heart. God is a righteous judge, a God who expresses his wrath every day.

A psalm of lament

            Nothing is hidden from God-this can be either terrifying or comforting. Our thoughts are an open book to him. Because he knows even our motives, we have no place to hide, no way to pretend we can get away with sin. But that very knowledge also gives us great comfort. We don't have to impress God or put up a false front. Instead, we can trust God to help us work through our weaknesses in order to serve him as he has planned. When we truly follow God, he rewards our effort.

            David opens the psalm with an appeal to his innocence. In verse three he admits that had he sinned then those who were pursuing him had just cause to attack. But he knows he is innocent of their charge. As a result he could only count on God to intervene and make his innocence known to others.

            During a time of great evil and injustice, David was grateful that God is righteous. When we wonder if anyone is honest or fair, we can be assured that God will continue to bring justice and fairness when we involve him in our activities. If you ever feel that you are being treated unfairly, ask the one who is always fair and just to be with you. Then thank him for his presence.

            Despite the circumstances of life we can sing praises to God. We can thank Him for the goodness he shows us daily for He is the Righteous Judge of all men and women.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


Psalm 6:1-3                O Lord, rebuke me not in your anger, nor discipline me in your wrath. Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing; heal me, O Lord, for my bones are troubled. My soul also is greatly troubled. But you, O Lord — how long?

A psalm of penitence

Severe illness can fall on any of us at any time. At such times we are vulnerable to attack. Other people may try to take advantage of us when we are weak. Spiritual forces may causes us to blame others for no good reason. Here we see that David has found himself vulnerable toward his enemies because of an illness. Nothing can be done to confront them as long as he is on his sickbed. God needs to help him. No one else can help him now.

The physical ills that we face can impact our soul. Our entire person, soul and body, are impacted by when we fall ill. The entire person becomes vulnerable to the attacks of others. Even our spiritual grounding can come under attack at these times. But like David there is still hope.

The anguish of relief not yet given by God causes him to cry out for help. Because David has a relationship with God, he can wrestle with God to find relief and understanding. David is convinced that God will help him. He knows that God can and will rescue him from his circumstances. He calls on God’s love, His very nature, to implore Him to respond.

David rests upon his understanding that the Lord has heard his weeping. He knows God hears him. God accepts His prayer because of the relationship he has already established with his Lord. God will never leave him nor forsake him. Upon this promise we can all stand when life brings illness and danger.

Monday, August 24, 2015


Psalm 5:3      O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.

A psalm of lament

The alarm rings and I jump out of bed. I stagger to the kitchen and flip on the light. The coffee pot is filled with water first and I place it on the stove to boil. Next I rinse out the French Press and scoop into it three ounces of fresh coffee. Walking down the hall to the back door, I unlock it and walk around the house to the drive-way. At the end of the drive I pick-up the newspaper and trudge back to the house. I place the paper on the table and grab my reading glasses. Before I sit down the coffee pot begins to whistle and I switch off the stove while I pour the water into the French Press. The paper awaits and my morning begins.

Not a very religious way to start your day, I know. But it works for me. I cannot sleep walk nor can I sleep read. Once the paper is read and the first cup of coffee is finished, I am awake to pray and read God’s Word. That is how my days begin.

After a morning prayer and reading, I begin to tell God what I would like to accomplish in the day ahead. I then ask Him to adjust the schedule according to His plan for my day. I am always amazed at what transpires throughout the hours of each day. Sometimes my appointments and plans are changed. People cancel or postpone meetings. Work that was to be accomplished is interrupted by the needs of a client or staff person. A crisis may arise and off I go to address a problem.

Then in the waning hours of the day I find myself able to sit down and write a message for the devotional. This is the joy or “icing” for the day that has passed. My expectations for the day were not all met. But the greatest expectation was met, I am able to be in His Word as the day draws to a close. What a great day this has been and God had His way with me.

Sunday, August 23, 2015


Psalm 4:3-5            But know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself; the Lord hears when I call to him. Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord.

A psalm of lament

Relief comes to David and he acknowledges it as having come from God. Such relief comes to those who are His and who call out to Him for help. We may find that others mistreat us and we become angry. No matter the conflict that others bring upon us, our anger is no justification for us to sin.

Yes, anger is an emotion and being angry is not sinful. Sin comes from our anger when we choose to respond improperly toward others. We may find such anger festering when we lay down at night. Without inviting God into your reflections of the day that is passed could lead you to fixate on the injustice that brought your anger. Let it go, let God bring relief.

The godly are those who are faithful and devoted to God. David knew that God would hear him when he called and would answer him. We too can be confident that God listens to our prayers and answers when we call on him. Sometimes we think that God will not hear us because we have fallen short of his high standards for holy living. But if we have trusted Christ for salvation, God has forgiven us, and he will listen to us.

When you feel as though your prayers are bouncing off the ceiling, remember that as a believer you have been set apart by God and that he loves you. He hears and answers, although his answers may not be what you expect. Look at your problems in the light of God's power instead of looking at God in the shadow of your problems.

Saturday, August 22, 2015


Psalm 3 : 5-6       I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me. I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around.

A Psalm of Lament

          Trust in God does not exempt us from attack, ridicule or threats against us. David laments the pressure he feels from those who oppose him and those who would do him physical harm. We may not face the exact same threat to our physical body but we do feel the pressure of the world upon us each day, Life gets crazy and confusing leading to pressure upon us. Yet, trusting in God is a sure way to reduce the stress and to feel less of the world's impact upon us.

          We may lament our circumstances but God never forgets us. He does not sleep. Confidence in God's presence in our time of need is a sustaining power in our life. Such confidence grows out of out ability to power out on God our daily cares. He has broad shoulders to take what we dump on Him. He wants to hear our laments. He is the course for lightening our load of cares and worldly pressures. David finds solace in his life situation because he pours out his concerns, frustrations and desires onto God's feet.

          In this psalm, David reflects on the fact that he can sleep soundly knowing that God is there to protect and enable him to rise in the morning. It is surprising how many days we awaken and take for granted that we have a new day to enjoy. Working a hard day makes it easy to fall asleep. And when we awaken we first notice the aches and pains. Sadly we awaken and forget that the very dawn of this new day is a gift. God has seen us through another night.

          The psalm is rightly positioned at the beginning of the Psalms so that we are reminded of our first need. Daily we need to give God praise for the new day. Circumstances and people will change, but God remains our ever present companion. God never sleeps.

Friday, August 21, 2015


Psalm 2 : 7-9     I will proclaim the decree of the LORD: He said to me, "You are my Son; today i have become your Father. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth you possession. You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery."

A Psalm of Kingship

          This Psalm is special because it points the reader to a time when the Anointed One will come into the world. He will reign over all the nations and peoples of the earth. He is Jesus, the Christ. It is frequently quoted in the New Testament, where it is applied to Jesus as the great Son of David and God's Anointed. 

          The Psalm's theology establishes God as sovereign of the world's kings. His will is accomplished in spite of those who may oppose Him. His anointed Son takes hold of his position with warnings to those who would oppose him. The psalm's use in Acts 13:33 reflects the nature of God's will fulfilled in the person of Christ. In Acts we read:

          "...God raised him from the dead, and for many days he was seen by those who had traveled with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, They are now his witnesses to our people. We tell you the good news: What God promised our fathers he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. As it is written in the second Psalm..."

          He is the Anointed on promised to our forefathers and revealed to us ever today. He was given sovereignty over the entire world from his heavenly Father. He reigns over all the people of the earth.

          We are warned to exercise wisdom in reading this psalm. Those who serve the Son are blessed. Those who do not, are opposing his will in their disobedience. They should fear his wrath for He will reward them for their disobedience.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015


Psalm 1 : 1-3       Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on His law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.

A Psalm of Confidence

          Psalm 1 is viewed  as the introductory Psalm for the entire book of the Psalms. It contrasts the ways of the righteous and the wicked. The Psalm describes the people of God as those who receive the blessing of righteous salvation for God while the wicked sinners turn away from the revealed will of God. The Law gives the parameters for daily living and security. The Law brings out our best because it guides us in decisions that are morally important and in accord with God's will.

          The entire collection of 150 Psalms gives evidence to the ways of the righteous followers of God and the ways of those who delight in the law of the Lord. The righteous take their direction in life from God's written Word. The unrighteous, the wicked, take their direction in life from other people and never from some old dusty book like the Bible.

          How we prosper in life is a direct result of our efforts as they line up with God's Word. The obedience of a faithful man or woman to God's Word will bring a life that is complete and fulfilling. The prosperity spoken of is one in character not material possessions. This is evident from the first verse as it is address the need for us to avoid the wicked, the sinners and the mockers around us. Such people have a mind set on the world they see and the world they strive to control. Their rewards are on from this world and are measured by the quantity gained.

          Seek the prosperity found in a relationship to God: happiness, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and love. This prosperity will bring you fullness and the world God intended for you.

Monday, August 10, 2015


Genesis 32:7-8   In great fear and distress Jacob divided the people who were with him into two groups, and the flocks and herds and camels as well. He thought, "If Esau comes and attacks one group, the group that is left may escape."

            The young woman recounted that as she left a parking lot the other day, she pulled into the lane toward the exit and didn’t see another car coming. The driver had to swerve to miss her. The woman threw up her hands in apology and mouthed “I’m sorry” but the driver pulled in front of her, blocked her, got out, ran toward her gesturing and yelling obscenities and began pounding her hood with his fist She was ready to dial 911 when his passenger coaxed him back inside.

          In his book, The Enigma of Anger, Garret Keizer writes: “You will notice how often your day-to-day anger arises when you’re in a rush. Hurrying lowers the threshold of your frustration, even as anger urges you to hurry more. On some visceral level, it makes sense that the engines we employ to give us more speed so often sound angry.” (pg.105)

Toad Hall, By Margie Haack. Summer-Fall 2011.

Sunday, August 9, 2015


Isaiah 53:2-3     He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

            The glory of Jesus’ obedience becomes more wonderful when we realize who he was who perfectly obeyed God. Jesus was none other than the Son of God made man.

          He, who was in heaven above all and Lord of all, lived in the world having no earthly glory or reputation, obliged to obey the whole law of God perfectly. He, to whom prayer is made, prayed himself night and day. He, whom all the angels of heaven and all creatures worship, fulfilled all the duties which the worship of God requires. He who is Lord and master of the house became the lowliest servant in the house, performing all menial duties, He that made all men, in whose hand they are all as clay is in the hand of the potter, observed among them the strictest rules of justice, in giving to everyone his due, and out of love giving good things to the undeserving.

          This is what makes the obedience of Christ so mysterious and glorious.

The Glory of Christ, By John Owen, pg 59.

Saturday, August 8, 2015


 Luke 8:22-25   One  day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”
     He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples. In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”

The Lord is my Pilot: I shall not drift.
He lights my way across dark waters.
He steers me through the deep channels.
He keeps my log.
He guides me by the star of holiness for His name’s sake.
As I sail through the storms and tempests of life,
I will dread no danger, for you are near me.
Your love and care shelter me.
You prepare a haven before me in the homeland of eternity.
You quiet the waves with oil;
My ship rides calmly.
Surely Sunlight and Starlight will shine wherever I sail,
And at the end of my voyaging,
I shall rest in the port of my God forever.
Unknown Author

Friday, August 7, 2015


Psalm 65:1-2   Praise befits you, O God, in Zion; to you our vows will be fulfilled. O you who hear prayer, to you all men will come.  

            Martin Luther had a barber named Peter who asked Luther “How do you pray?” Martin Luther answered with a not so unusual forty page letter. It was published in 1535 under the title A Simple Way to Pray, for a Good Friend. Listen to this opening paragraph:

Dear Master Peter,
          I give you the best I have. I tell you how I pray myself. May our Lord God grant you and everyone to do it better.
           A good clever barber must have his thoughts, mind and eyes concentrated upon the razor and the beard and not forget where he is in his stroke and shave. If he keeps talking or looking around or thinking of something else, he is likely to cut a man’s mouth or nose – or even his throat. So anything that is to be done well ought to occupy the whole man with all his faculties and members. As the saying goes: he who thinks of many things, thinks of nothing and accomplishes no good. How much more must prayer possess the heart exclusively and completely if it is to be a good prayer!

            This is Luther talking to his barber! This is counseling. Luther puts his counselee up and himself down. Humbly he stands under him and therefore “under-stands” him. He places himself in Peter’s world, and this enables him to pick up Master Peter where he is.

Martin Luther’s Quiet Time, By Walter Trobisch, pgs.3-4.

Thursday, August 6, 2015


Psalm 36:28      My tongue will speak of your righteousness and of your praises all day long.

            Someone has said that no Christian should sing the Charles Wesley hymn titled: O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing, until he has learned to properly use the one that God has given him. All of our senses were given to us to be used for the glory of God.

James presents another thought when he cautions in saying: “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness.” (James 3:9) Our tongues are capable of producing snide and bitter remarks, sharp criticism, gossip, harsh words and untruths. God is not looking for one person to whom He can give a thousand tongues, but rather for a thousand people, each with a dedicated tongue and a willing heart to offer praise to Christ.

We will never stand before God to be judged for not having had a thousand tongues, but we will have to give account for the way we used the one we have.

Devotional Thoughts From The Hymn Book, By Ruth I. Johnson, pg. 32-33.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015


Titus 3:4-5   But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior.
Jesus, my feet are dirty. Come and slave for me; pour your water into your basin and come and wash my feet. I am overbold, I know, in asking this, but I dread what you threatened when you said: “If I do not wash your feet, it means you have no companionship with me.” Wash my feet, then, because I do want to have companionship with you. And yet, why am I saying: “Wash my feet”? It was all very well for Peter to say that, for in his case all that needed washing was his feet: he was clean through and through. My position is quite different: you may wash me now, but I shall still need that other washing you were thinking of , Lord, when you said: “There is a baptism I must needs be baptized with.”     Origen

The Macmillan Book of Earliest Christian Prayers, By R. Forrester Church & Terrence J. Mulry, pg. 37.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015


Galatians 6:9-10     Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

               The Lord commands us to do good to all men without exception, though the majority are very undeserving when judged according to their own merits. But Scripture here helps us out with an excellent argument when it teaches us that we must not think of man’s real value, but only of his creation in the image of God to which we owe all possible honor and love. The image of God, moreover, is most carefully to be regarded in those who are of the household of faith, because it has been renewed and restored in them by the Spirit of Christ.

            If anyone, therefore, appears before you who are in need of your kind services, you have no reason to refuse him your help. Suppose he is a stranger; yet the Lord has pressed his own stamp on him. Suppose he is despicable and worthless; yet the Lord has adorned him with His own image. If he has deserved no kindness, but just the opposite, because he has angered you with his insults, even this is no reason why you should not show him all sorts of favors.

            You may say that he has deserved a very different treatment, but what does the Lord command but to forgive all men their offenses, and to charge them all against Him.

Golden Booklet of the True Christian Life, By John Calvin, pgs. 32-35.

Monday, August 3, 2015


 2 Timothy 2:24-25    The Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth.

            The ministry is a “learned profession”; and the man without learning, no matter with what other gifts he may be endowed, is unfit for its duties. The minister must be “apt to teach” says the Apostle Paul. The other requirements refer to his spiritual fitness. He must be godly. The best service we can offer to God is just to do our duty – our plain, homely duty, whatever that may be.

            Every man who aspires to be a religious man must begin by doing his duty, his obvious duty, his daily task, the particular work which lies before him to do at this particular time and place. If this work happens to be studying, then his religious life depends on nothing more than just studying. No religious character can be built up on the foundation of neglected duty.

          Put your heart into your studies; do not merely occupy your mind with them, but put your heart into them. They bring you daily and hourly into the very presence of God; his ways, his dealing with men, the infinite majesty of his Being form their very subject-matter. Take the shoes off your feet for you are on holy ground in His presence.

The Religious Life of Theological Students, By Benjamin B. Warfield.

Sunday, August 2, 2015


 Genesis 32:7-8   In great fear and distress Jacob divided the people who were with him into two groups, and the flocks and herds and camels as well. He thought, "If Esau comes and attacks one group, the group that is left may escape."

            While Jacob was on his way to be reunited with his brother, Esau, he was plagued with doubts. He learned that Esau was wealthy and had a large family. He thought, “What if God has changed his mind? Maybe God has rejected me in favor of my brother.” These were Jacob’s thoughts, but they remained just that – thoughts. Because of human nature and weak faith, people can’t keep from having these kinds of thoughts any more than they can avoid other emotions, such as impatience, anger and lust. You can’t keep thoughts and temptations from coming into your head. Just don’t let these thoughts become fixed in your mind so that they begin to affect your judgment.

            You should follow the advice of a hermit who was approached by a young man complaining of having lustful thoughts and other temptations. The old man told him, “You can’t stop the birds from flying over your head. But only let them fly. Don’t let them nest in your hair.” It’s all right to have these thoughts, but let them remain just that – thoughts. Don’t let them grow to the point where you have to act on these thoughts.

            This was the problem that led to despair in the lives of Cain, Saul, Judas, and others. They let their thoughts grow and grow until they were saying, “My punishment is more than I can bear” (Genesis 4:13), or “I have sinned,…for I have betrayed innocent blood” (Matthew 27:4). When they did this, their temptation was turned into a judgment because they rejected the Word of God, faith, and prayer. [They acted on their wicked and untrue thoughts.] But in spite of the many thoughts and severe temptations that Jacob experienced that night, he didn’t throw his faith away.

Faith Alone: A Daily Devotional, By Martin Luther. March 8.

Saturday, August 1, 2015


Isaiah 37:14-15          Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it. Then he went up to the temple of the LORD and spread it out before the LORD. And Hezekiah prayed to the LORD.

            This chapter of Isaiah contains an interesting story about King Hezekiah. The Assyrians were attacking Jerusalem with a large army and beginning to overpower it. The situation looked hopeless. King Sennacherib ridiculed Hezekiah mercilessly. Sennacherib made fun of Hezekiah’s misfortune by writing him a letter filled with insults about God in order to make the devout king lose all hope. Instead of losing hope, Hezekiah went into the temple, spread out the letter in front of God, bowed down with his face touching the ground, and prayed a heartfelt prayer.

            Learning to pray when there’s an emergency or when something is frightening us requires a lot of discipline. Instead of praying, we tend to torture ourselves with anxiety and worry. All we can think about is trying to get rid of the problem. The devil often tricks us when temptation or suffering first begins, whether we are dealing with spiritual or physical matters. He immediately barges in and makes us so upset about the problem that we become consumed by it. In this way, he tears us away from praying. He makes us so confused that we don’t even think about praying. When we finally begin to pray, we have already tortured ourselves half to death. The devil knows what prayer can accomplish. That’s why he creates so many obstacles and makes it so inconvenient for us that we never get around to prayer.

            On the basis of this story in Isaiah, we should get into the habit of falling on our knees and spreading our needs in front of God the moment we have an emergency or become frightened. Prayer is the very best medicine there is. It always works and never fails – if we would just use it!

Faith Alone: A Daily Devotional by Martin Luther. July  16.

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