Wednesday, September 30, 2015


John 8:3-11   The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery who stood in front of the group. They said to Jesus, “This woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” Jesus said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”…those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.

Near the end of his life, Carl Sandburg, historian, poet and entertainer, was asked by a reporter, “What in your opinion is the ugliest word in the English language?” Mr. Sandburg drew his brow thoughtfully over his face and repeated the phrase, “The ugliest word in the English language.”

The reporter and television audience waited. Mr. Sandburg gathered his face into a circle of concentration and said slowly, “The ugliest word?” Everyone waited.

Finally, Mr. Sandburg turned back to the reporter. “The ugliest word,” he said, “the ugliest word is (pause) exclusive.”

Preaching.  by Fred Craddock, pg. 135.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


Matthew 5:14-16   You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

            ‘For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill,’ Puritan John Winthrop famously preached to fellow immigrants to America aboard ship in 1630. At least two American presidents have quoted him, John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. His words have resonated for many Americans ever since, reminding them of their spiritual obligations, not just to each other, but to the whole world.

In China today, church members are intimidated, banned from worship, placed under house arrest or arrested for their faith and practice. China tolerates Christian church services, but only within the narrow boundaries of theology and church life dictated by the State Administration for Religious Affairs.

The number of Christians in China number between 20 and 130 million. Recent crackdowns on house-church Christians stems from the Communist Party’s initiative “Operation Deterrence” to force them into compliance with State Religious guidelines.

If America’s churches are truly to be “as a city upon a hill,” they should follow the Rev. Graham’s example and help to shed light on the ongoing repression of their brethren in China.

Jesus in Beijing: How Christianity Is Transforming China and Changing the Global Balance of Power”, By David Aikman, The Wall Street Journal, July 11, 2011, pg. A15.

Monday, September 28, 2015


Job 1:21   Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.

The story of Job is one that touches so much in human life. Success as measured by this world had come to Job. Wealth and family had grown to such a measure that servants attended to his every need. He was well known in his community and well respected for his charity to the poor and fatherless. Job was a man of the century for his day and time. But, like many whom he helped, he fell into poverty and despair. How could such a reversal of fortune have occurred? Would such a fall be reversed? How could Job recover from such depths of grief and abandonment?

            We forget that our struggle in this world is not against mere humans and institutions created by men. Our battle goes beyond this world into the unseen and often misunderstood realm of spirits, powers and principalities beyond our senses. Satan is battling against God himself. In spite of the victory won by Christ, Satan continues to battle against the winners in heaven. Our struggles many times are the results of those battles and skirmishes in heaven. But we are never without help. God remains on our side and continues to defeat Satan at his every turn through God’s people.

            Job would not allow death, destruction, his wife or friends or his own painful situation to move him out of his faith into despair and cursing of God. Job battled the rational impulses that were ignited by Satan and fueled by his friends and wife. He refused to abandon the truth he knew of God’s goodness, providence and grace. Job refused to give into the temptation to curse God and die. That would have been the easy way out of his anguish and despair. But God had provided him sufficient faith for every event that occurred. God was true to his promise and Job knew it.

            When times are dark, painful and seemingly without hope, may the Holy Spirit support your faith and belief in God’s goodness and presence. May the darkness of despair never cause you to turn from you.

Jericho Road Ministries Chapel, by Rev. Bruce W. Gimbel, 2007.

Sunday, September 27, 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.

Saturday, September 26, 2015


Exodus 14:13-14    Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

            Israel had enough in Egypt. They had become a country within a country. They were slaves to the Egyptian nation. Crying out to Jehovah, the Israelites begged for freedom from their bondage in Egypt. God responded with an unusual and hidden display of his power. He hardened Pharaoh's heart. This unusual when we think of what God could have done. He could have destroyed Pharaoh and the entire nation in a moment. In a flash, the Israelite’s problems would have been over. But to show them his grace and judgment, God hardened the heart of Pharaoh over a period of time that prolonged the sufferings of the Israelites. Over time the wickedness of sin in the hearts of unbelievers is displayed through Pharaoh while the longing for God would be increased among the Israelites.

            God led them out of Egypt and destroyed Pharaoh’s army. The Israelites were free from bondage and persecution. But the power and might displayed by God was quickly forgotten by His people. They saw themselves move from one enslavement to another. Their movement into the desert was in time viewed by them not as freedom but as another horrendous experience. It was so bad that they longed to return to Egypt and give up on Moses, God’s appointed leader.

            The faith they had in God to deliver them from Egypt evaporated in the desert. The promise God offered was freedom to follow Him. Their faith in his deliverance was the same faith that God had a reason and purpose for them in the desert. How quickly we loose heart when our faith is challenged by different and difficult circumstances.

Prayer:     The faith you have given us for today‘s challenges is sufficient for tomorrow. Help us to be mindful of the fact that you give us no more than we can handle from day to day and from circumstance to circumstance. By your power keep us faithful and true to our calling as Christians.

Jericho Road Ministries Chapel, by Rev. Bruce W. Gimbel, 2006.

Friday, September 25, 2015


John 13:3 - 14:1    Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!” “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me”, said Jesus.   

“People could not believe the headlines of the newspapers in 1860. French acrobat and tightrope walker Charles Blondin stretched an 1,100 foot long tightrope some 160 feet above Niagara Falls. In a bold performance, he announced his intention to cross the falls blindfolded with a volunteer on his back. The crowds roared with approval. When Blondin approached one member of the cheering crowd, the man promptly refused. It was one thing to “believe” the Great Blondin could carry a man over the raging waters, but it was quite another to “trust” him to do it. The faith that saves is the faith that is steadfast.” (Professor William L. Krewson, The Institute of Biblical Studies)

            Do you believe in Jesus? Do you trust Jesus? Like Peter, we often misunderstand our own attitude towards Christ because we do not really know our own hearts. Jesus knows our hearts better than we do. It is a huge distance from believing something about Jesus to trusting our lives to him because of what we believe. The distance can be as wide as Niagara Falls. Sometimes we face the distance when we are put into a life situation that can only be answered with trust and not belief. Peter faced that when confronted by a young woman with having been an associate of Jesus. Fearing man and not trusting what he believed he denied Christ three times.

            I pray that God gives us the faith to trust Him no matter the life struggle or circumstances we encounter. With confidence in Him may we take each day with the joy of our salvation and the trust of our beliefs.

Jericho Road Ministries Chapel, by Rev. Bruce W. Gimbel, 2008.

Thursday, September 24, 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.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


1 John 3:16-18      This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 

In the real world of relationships it is impossible to love people with a problem or a need without in some sense sharing or even changing places with them. All real life-changing love involves some form of this kind of exchange.
It requires very little of you to love a person who is pulled together and happy. Think, however, of emotionally wounded people. There is no way to listen and love people like that and stay completely emotionally intact yourself. It may be that they may feel stronger and more affirmed as you talk, but that won’t happen without you being quite emotionally drained yourself. It’s them or you. To bring them up emotionally you must be willing to be drained emotionally.
            All life-changing love toward people with serious needs is a substitutional sacrifice. If you become personally involved with them, in some way, their weaknesses flow toward you as your strengths flow toward them. In The Cross of Christ, John Stott writes that substitution is at the heart of the Christian message: “The essence of sin is we human beings substituting ourselves for God, while the essence of salvation is God substituting himself for us. We…put ourselves where only God deserves to be; God…puts himself where we deserve to be.”

            If that is true, how can God be a God of love if he does not become personally involved in suffering the same violence, oppression, grief, weakness, and pain that we experience? The answer to that question is twofold. First, God can’t. Second, only one major world religion even claims that God does.

The Reason For God by Tim Keller, pg.193-5   

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


2 Thessalonians 3:6-15    In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching your received from us.

            There are all kinds of magazines published today. If you don’t believe me, visit a book store and see for yourself. Sports, leisure, hobbies, romance, movie stars and rock idols, magazines for seniors, baby boomers and children, history, science, collecting, dolls and more can be found. There is one titled “Creative Loafing”. Can you imagine having to learn how to creatively loaf. Idleness is a fool’s activity. Unfortunately our culture provides ample opportunities to loaf, calling it recreation, rest, fan participation and more. Our culture has more time and money spent on leisure activities than all the countries in the world combined. God’s people are in jeopardy of falling into the surrounding culture of idleness if we are not diligent.

            Paul addresses this very issue in his letter to the church at Thessalonica. Because of the dire importance of the sin of idleness he reminds us in "the name of the Lord Jesus Christ" to stress the danger. As a people called to a specific mission of glorifying God and providing salt and light to the world, we cannot afford to loaf. Paul says that those who remain idle are to be denied the privilege of associating with their fellow Christians. "Idle" in the Greek translates from a word meaning "disorderly". Paul is speaking about loafing, not being diligent in doing our daily work and having a slothful conduct. There is no excuse for living the Christian life in such a manner. In fact, such a life is not Christian at all. The danger of such people in the Christian fellowship is so serious that Paul advocates such drastic action as keeping away from the "idle."

Prayer:     Lord, forgive us the lack of self-discipline to remain strong in such a self-entertaining culture. Help us to read your Word, pray and fellowship in your name that our lives would reflect our love for you in Christian service and not a desire for the things of the world.

Jericho Road Ministries Chapel, by Rev. Bruce W. Gimbel, 2007.

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Core of Sin


Genesis 3:6-7
 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

            Since on his own man cannot live in God’s truth, he provisionally remains caught in the conflict between openness to the world and self hood. Man remains imprisoned in his self hood. He secures himself through what has been attained, or he insists on his plans. In any case, to the extent that he is able, he fits what is new into what was already in his mind. In this way not only does he readily damage his destiny to be open to the world; he also closes himself off from the God who summons him to his destiny. The self hood that is closed up within itself is sin.

            Since Augustine’s profound insights, in Christian theology the self hood that is closed up within itself and in its worldly possessions has been understood as the real core of sin. If the most widespread manifestation of sin is greed, in greed man’s love for himself is still at work as its innermost motivation. Self-love prevents us from turning to other men for their own sake, and, not least, it hinders us in loving God for his own sake. Thus, as the Augsburg Confession summarizes it, sin asserts itself on the one hand in unbelief by denying God the reverence and grateful trust due him, and on the other hand in the greed by which man makes himself a slave of the things for which he strives.

            Later Soren Kierkegaard saw that sin took effect in still a third direction: not only in man’s relation to God on the one hand and in his relation to the world and to his fellowmen on the other; but also in man’s relation to himself. Where man does not live by trust in God, anxiety appears, namely, anxiety about himself...It is through anxiety that the sinner remains related to his infinite destiny. In despair, however, man separates himself from his destiny, whether it be that he gives up hope for it or, on the contrary, that he wants to achieve it on his own and only wants to be indebted to himself. Both anxiety and despair reveal the emptiness of the ego that revolves about itself.

What Is Man? By Wolfhart Pannenberg, pg. 63.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Whose Kingdom

Ezra 1:2      This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: “The LORD, the God of Heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah.”


            In studying ancient history for this period (600 BC – 400 BC) you find that King Cyrus was quite a wise and practical ruler. He believed that when he conquered a people it was because their god had allowed it to happen. So as his kingdom grew in size it became necessary for his control over the people to allow them to return to their conquered land and re-establish their places of worship to their god. In this way, so Cyrus thought, he could continue to find the favor of all the gods whose people and lands he had conquered. The people would be happy, the gods are happy and Cyrus could reign unchallenged.

            His announcement to return the Israelites to Judah seems to be a routine diplomatic courtesy towards the Israelites and their “God”. Yet, we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). In Cyrus’s announcement God begins the restoration of His people to their rightful place. God fulfills his promise to the patriarchs that in time His people would be more numerous than the stars in the sky. Seventy years in captivity is an awful long time to wait. It is also not an event that cannot be overcome by God.
            The invitation to return home, to return to God is a free offer. Cyrus did not demand that anyone would go. It was a free offer to anyone of the LORD’s people. They could go if they chose, or they could remain in the lands of their exile.

            The invitation remains open to you today. The King invites you to return to Him and be reestablished in the place he has planned for you. The invitation is to accept that God will work in you and in your life for the good as you love Him and accept His purpose for your life.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Going Home


 Ezra 1:1      In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah, the LORD moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing

God is never absent from the events of his world. You may be troubled and confused by the headlines of the daily paper or news broadcasts you watch. There seems to be so much conflict and war in the world. Listen long enough and you will see the images of refugees fleeing from wars, famine among other regions of the world or hear of economic decline or collapse in other regions. This should never sway you from the truth that God is watching and is working in the world to fulfill his plans for His family.

God will use an unbeliever to bring about the plans he has for His people. The people of God had been taken into captivity in Babylon. It is under the reign of King Cyrus that things begin to change for them. After years of enslavement, brutality, alienation and hopelessness God’s plan begins to unfold. The astonishing thing is that it begins with the change of heart of their ruling captor, Cyrus. The Lord moved the heart of Cyrus to release the people of God. They would be going home.

Why did God move in Cyrus’ heart, and not the leaders of the exiled people? Practically speaking, Cyrus was in control. God simply worked a change in him to fulfill his promises to Abraham and his descendants centuries earlier. You have another principle to remember: God is faithful to His Word whether written or spoken. The more you know of His Word the more comfort, peace and hope you will find in your life. And the greater your joy in knowing that God is working to bring you home too.

Friday, September 18, 2015


Psalm  28:6-7         Praise be to the LORD, for he has heard my cry for mercy. The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.

A psalm of lament

What does wickedness look like? How does someone measure evil? The words and actions of some people do not always appear to be evil or wicked. So it is with the wicked, says the psalmist in verse 3. Such deception causes great harm to those who place trust in the un-trustworthy. We fall for them because we do not find them out until after we have been hurt or deceived.

No one wants to be the victim of such evil or wickedness. Many times we can see or hear the nature of people and are able to steer clear of danger. Sometimes we stumble upon situations that make the intent of another evident, and we avoid being hurt. But there are other times when we are victimized by the wicked. We fall prey to their deception and we suffer the consequences. The sacred nature of the relationship is shattered. Trust is broken.

In some cases trust can be re-built and in other cases it cannot. It takes the same amount of time to re-build trust anew as it did to gain it in the beginning. Actually, re-building trust takes longer. The memory of the fall from trust is monumental. For some people it can never be overlooked in the future.

Only one person can help us bridge the divide of broken trust. God can carry us across the brokenness of our lives. He will shepherd us back into his care and protection. His strength will enable us to move forward with the hurts and memories. As we place our trust in Him, we find healing and help in our time of need.

Thursday, September 17, 2015


Psalm 26:11-12         But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity; redeem me, and be gracious to me. My foot stands on level ground; in the great assembly I will bless the Lord.

A psalm of lament

The psalm begins and ends with similar wording. David prays for God’s discerning mercies. He asks that God spare him the same fate of the wicked and ungodly. He lays claim to a blameless life of trusting God.

We sometimes allow the sins of our past to dictate our posture before God. He has forgiven those sins and the consequences may have all passed by, but they still influence our thinking. We still seem these sins as we did in the past. We forget that God has separated us from them. He now sees us in Christ. As we approach Him now we do so in faith and trusting that He has forgiven and forgotten our past sins. Since that time we have approached him in faith and with a pure heart devoted to him. We have not knowingly sinned. If we have sinned, we have sought his forgiveness and received it.

David remembers the nature of God’s forgiveness. He can speak of not being like the wicked and evil people that surrounds him. He does this because His trust is no longer in the world or himself. His trust is in God. This is the measure of our faith and our worthiness before God. This is integrity, being the same person when no one is watching.

May God continue to grow us in the likeness of Christ. May we fully understand the measure of His forgiveness and allow ourselves to forgive our self. Then we can move forward in the mercies and graces of Christ Jesus.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


Psalm  25:4-5           Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.

A psalm of lament

David expressed his desire for guidance. How do we receive God's guidance? The first step is to want to be guided and to realize that God's primary guidance system is in his Word, the Bible. By reading it and constantly learning from it, we will gain the wisdom to perceive God's direction for our lives. We may be tempted to demand answers from God, but David asked for direction. When we are willing to seek God, learn from his Word, and obey his commands, then will we receive His guidance.

"The LORD is a friend to those who fear him." God offers intimate and lasting friendship to those who revere him, who hold him in highest honor. What relationship could ever compare with having the Lord of all creation for a friend? Your everlasting friendship with God will grow as you revere him.

The goodness of God is available to us as friends of Christ. Jesus said to the disciples that what he had learned from the Father he had shared with them. Jesus promised us the same thing. By sending the Holy Spirit to indwell believers, he is providing us a source for furthering our knowledge of him. The Spirit will teach us about Jesus and lead us in understanding and applying God’s Word to our lives and our relationships. We are not left to our own devices when we walk in the Spirit and with Christ Jesus.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


Psalm  24: 3-4        Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false.

A psalm of kingship

For 3,000 years this psalm has taught people the absolute priority in their lives of the worship of God. Today it is recited by Jews on the first day of each week. It is used by Christians on Ascension Day. In other churches it is sung before Holy Communion.

Originally it probably was a song used when the procession of priests and people carried the Ark of the Covenant into the sanctuary in an annual celebration. The Ark signified God’s presence in the midst of his people. It was the Ark of the Covenant, the symbol of God’s special relationship in love and loyalty to all Israel and to David and the line of kings after him. In gratitude to God, this ceremony was held year after year in order that both the leaders and the people together could renew their loyalty to God.

Who is worthy of this worship of God? Some might say only those who have regularly attended worship each Sabbath day. Others might ask if you have kept all the commandments and Laws of Scripture. But the writer  points to the cleanness of our hands and the purity of our heart. He asks us to reflect on our actions and our motivations of heart. The requirements noted point us to the intent of the worshipper. They come in to worship God while remaining sinners.

 Today the worshipers of God come covered by Christ Jesus. His death and resurrection takes away the punishment for our sins. The Holy Spirit enables us to worship God in spirit and in truth. Christ alone makes possible our drawing near to God in repentance and in faith. He alone is our salvation and our King of Glory.

Monday, September 14, 2015


Psalm  23:1-3             The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

A psalm of confidence

The image of "shepherd" arouses emotions of care, provision, and protection. A good shepherd is personally concerned with the welfare of his sheep. Because of this the designation "my shepherd" is further described by various aspects of God's care: "lie down, leads, restores, guides"; and by the resulting tranquility, "I will fear no evil."

The shepherd's care is symbolized by the "rod" and the "staff." A shepherd carried a rod to club wild animals and a staff to keep the sheep in control. These two represent God's constant vigilance over his own and bring "comfort" because of his personal presence and involvement with his sheep. The "green pastures" are the rich and verdant pastures, where the sheep need not move from place to place to be satisfied. The fields, even parts of the desert, would green during the winter and spring. But in summer and fall the sheep would be led to many places in search of food. God's care is not seasonal but constant and abundant. The sheep have time to rest, as the shepherd makes them to "lie down." The "quiet waters" are the wells and springs where the sheep can drink without being rushed. Through these means, God renews the sheep so that they feel life in his presence is good and worth living.  

The nature of the shepherd's care also lies in guidance. He leads his own in the "paths of righteousness." "Righteousness" here signifies "right" in the sense of "straight," i.e., the paths that bring the sheep most directly to their destination. He does not unnecessarily tire out his sheep. Even when the "right paths" bring the sheep "through the valley of the shadow of death," there is no need to fear.

Thursday, September 10, 2015


Psalm  22:1-2              My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent.

A psalm of lament

This psalm contains the anguished cries of David as a godly sufferer, victim of prolonged attacks by his enemies. The opening verse is placed on the lips of Jesus as he hung on the cross at Calvary. (Matthew 27:46) Both David and Jesus experienced the distance between man and God.

There are times in our lives when God seems so distant and non-existent. The world and our circumstances seem to be falling in around us. The pressures of work, the demands of family and the needs of friends compete for our waking hours. Add to this the schemes of others to get one up on us and the world will seem dark and hostile on a daily basis.

We know too, that God is ever present in life. He is one prayer away from each of us. The unbeliever may say there is no God when trials and suffering occur in their lives. The Christian knows that God is there and that the suffering and trials reveal our ever more starkly our need for Him. Hanging on the cross Jesus experienced man’s alienation from God. The unbeliever has nothing left to hold on to. But the Christian has a God who knows our suffering and pain. He sympathizes with us and uses such suffering to mold us and to draw us to His purpose in life. Nothing is in vain with Him. All of life has meaning and purpose.

God will never leave us nor will He forsake us. As His children He will draw us to himself and comfort us with the comfort only He can offer in our times of need. Praise Him all you children of the Lord. He is worthy of your praise.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015


Psalm 21:6-7          For you make him most blessed forever; you make him glad with the joy of your presence.  For the king trusts in the Lord, and through the steadfast love of the Most High he shall not be moved.

A psalm of kingship

The psalmist wrote knowing that God had chosen and called the king to lead Israel. Also, he knew that God had promised to bless the king forever. All that was expected of the king was that he accept God’s promise with joy and thanksgiving, and he did.

King David was king and head of Israel. He was the representative head of all the people of Israel. This psalm is a reminder to God’s people that they too had been chosen and set apart as His special possession. They share in the promised blessings forever. Like David, they are to acknowledge God’s strength in giving them victory over their enemies. When the desires of their hearts are met, His people are to praise His grace and goodness.

The blessings of God were not hidden. The glory of the king was known by the enemies and by Israel. The Lord gave victory to the king when he waged war on the enemies of God. King David finds gladness of heart in the very presence of God in his life. In return for God’s giving him victory, David trusted the Lord and would not be shaken by what faced him in battle. God’s unfailing love gave David victory and elicited love from David to God.

The relationship God seeks with his people is to be reciprocal. As we trust God more, his unfailing presence is known and our love for Him grows. The more we trust the more we love and the more God is glorified through us. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015


Psalm  20:7-8           Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright.

A psalm of kingship

This Psalm is a prayer offered to God before the king went into battle against a threatening enemy. David faced many enemies both inside and outside his kingdom. It seems that sinful people are always challenging the rule and standing of God’s leaders. Throughout the Bible we see instances of foreign armies coming against God’s people. We see plots and schemes from within the circle of God’s people who would seek to dethrone God’s anointed leaders. Even Jesus Christ, lowly and meek, faced opposition because of his stand against false shepherds within God’s flock.

Daily we face skirmishes and battles against people, powers and cultural structures of leadership. As followers of Christ we seek to be obedient to God above all other authorities. Yet, we find from day to day our beliefs challenged by politicians at all levels of government and bosses in our places of work. These people who oppose the commands and wisdom of God’s Word merely represent the forces of evil and spiritual battles that are all around us each day. If we are in tune with the Holy Spirit, be sure that others people may be in tune with the Evil One.

The victory is already ours because of Jesus Christ. No matter the worldly skirmishes we face, Christ is victorious and is reigning over all creation. The “mopping up” of the defeat forces in the heavenly realm are being waged on this side of heaven, too. Our battles are won in faith not in with the conventional weapons of wealth, physical strength, wisdom or status. We trust in Jesus Christ and in doing so we will stand now and in the world to come.

Monday, September 7, 2015


Psalm 19:12-14         Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless,    innocent of great transgression. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

A psalm of worship

The apostle Paul referred to this psalm when he explained that everyone knows about God because nature proclaims God's existence and power. This does not cancel the need for missions because the message of God's salvation found in his Word, the Bible, must still be told to the ends of the earth. While nature points to the existence of God, the Bible tells us about salvation. God's people must explain to others how they can have a relationship with God. Although people everywhere should already believe in a Creator by just looking at the evidence of nature around them, God needs us to explain his love, mercy, and grace.

What are you doing to take God's message to the world? Sometimes the words we say communicate the gospel message to others. Other times the gospel message is communicated by our conduct. What we do and how we speak and who we befriend communicate our inner heart to others. God knows what we say to people with our mouths, even before we speak. He also knows what we are thinking when we act the way we do.

Would you change the way you live if you knew that every word and thought would be examined by God first? David asks that God approve his words and thoughts as though they were offerings brought to the altar. As you begin each day, determine that God's love will guide what you say and how you think and what you do. In this way your entire life will be a testimony to Christ no matter where you go.

Sunday, September 6, 2015


Psalm 18:6, 19          In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears…. He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.

A psalm of remembrance

It is good to remember the past. The good and the bad have shaped our lives to this day. When God is in your life and you are striving daily to remain with Him, the past will always be a reminder of His goodness and grace.

Today we reflect on the Lord's worthiness of our praise and love. God hears us and descends to rescue us. He rewards and responds to us in the same manner we respond to him. He desires to bless, help and guide us daily. He is our Savior and is worthy of our praise.

David's praise and thanksgiving to God is summarized into ten sections. The first acknowledges his desire to love and praise God for the wondrous acts on David's behalf. For when David cried out in distress God responded. The earth trembled as God descended in dark clouds to defend His chosen one from enemies. God delighted in reaching down, rescuing David from his powerful enemies. David's righteousness is the basis for God's dealing with him. God responds in kind to all men; faith for faith, pure for pure or shrewd for crooked. David thrives, his foes are defeated and nations become subservient all by the God who makes our way perfect. Final praises are offered by David to God who is unfailing in his kindness. 

The power of God in all aspects of David's life and reign are depicted in his willingness to give all glory and honor to god. The very love he has for God is enabled by the strength of God in him. God, the Redeemer is picture as strong, rock, shield and stronghold. His strength is stronger than the "cords of death", "torrents of destruction", "cords of the grave" and the "snares of death". He is able to lay bare the valleys of the sea and the foundations of the earth. Yet, such power and strength were able to gently reach down and rescue David.

Saturday, September 5, 2015


Psalm 17:7-9        Show the wonder of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes. Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings from the wicked who assail me, from my mortal enemies who surround me.

A psalm of lament

You have answered me, having heard the earnest prayer of your son who had been lost to himself but is now found by you. In you I sought fulfillment, peace, meaning, contentment; and in you I have found refuge in this storm filled world.

In your image I stand and reflect the vision you have for your creation. As an apple is reflected in one’s eye, I stand as a reflection of your mercy, goodness and love. I am your image in an imageless world. I am your image in a world of false images. All around me is a world of enemies for they do not acknowledge you. Enemies of all sorts surround those who seek purity and truth.

               The enemies refuse to hear or see the love revealed in Christ and reject what is offered in peace. Arrogantly they reject as interfering the concern that takes form in your servant.

               With desires set on their own stability and control, they seek to remove any remnant that confronts and convicts their senses of the lies that they believe and live. Enemies want to muzzle the messenger as he brings the truth of the battle’s victory and their own loss. Defeated they cower behind lies and man-made systems that elevate the things of man above the things of God. Institutions, programs, systems, structures, governments, agencies stand to do their god's will, man's will.

               Hungry to show their own image as strong and godly in its ability to devour enemies they await in positions of power to redirect the lambs to slaughter. In the dark of night they hide awaiting the lamb.

Friday, September 4, 2015


Psalm 16:5-6         LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.

A psalm of confidence

The fact that God is ever present in our lives is evident from this Psalm. Our greatest need is safety and fulfillment in life. When we chase after the things of the world we find life to be hectic, unfulfilling and fleeting in all its ways. But the person who seeks God, finds God and follows God, life takes on a different meaning and importance.

The mood of these verses is one of satisfaction and contentment. For many people these feelings are distant or non-existing in their lives. But God is ever present and He knows us thoroughly. In fact he is keeping us where we are for his grand purposes.

Many people do not like to be fenced in or boxed into a corner. But God has us right where he wants us. When the Psalmist realizes this he finds contentment and satisfaction in his life.

 When we chase after things that the world says we should have we can only be certain to find trouble and sorrow. But if we chase after the things of God we find a gladness of heart that many will never find. Praise God for his faithful and good presence in our lives each day.

Thursday, September 3, 2015


Psalm  15:1,5b            O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill? …. He who does these things shall never be moved.

A psalm of wisdom

In contrast to the fool of Psalm 14, here we have the way of the wise. Ten elements of wisdom are provided us to show the character of the person who will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

He who walks blamelessly is a person of integrity. They are not double-minded and tossed to and fro like the waves of the sea. As Jesus says, they are pure in heart.
The person who does what is right. This person does as God directs from Scriptures. His heart is turned towards God and not towards self.
The one who speaks truth in his heart is a man of his word. What is true is spoken.
A person will not slander with his tongue. This person is not into rumors and does not talk behind the backs of other people.
The one who does no evil to his neighbor nor his friend. You cannot speak truthfully and then go out and do bad things to others. There is a consistency between the words you speak and the actions you take.
Those who are rejected by God are despised but never given up as lost. They are to be loved as God loves us.
The children of God, believers are to be honored as ones who fear the Lord. The salvation of our Lord is a wonder filled mystery.
The Christian makes the promise and lives with whatever consequences may come. “Until death do us part” says the bride to her groom. The years ahead may bring trouble but quitting is not an option as they have sworn to their own hurt and does not change their vow.
Give money to those in need with the expectation of not being repaid. When you are paid back you will be joyful. The “interest” earned is in the actual payback. All that we have is already a gift to us from God.
Do nothing to prevent the innocent from receiving justice, what is due them by God’s ordained order of life.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015


Psalm  14:1           The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.

A psalm of wisdom

The Hebrew words used for fool in the Psalms means someone who is morally deficient. In fact, Proverbs speaks often about the fool and his immoral beliefs and actions. Proverbs uses six different Hebrew terms to describe “the fool”. The psalmist uses here only one term, “nabhal”, to describe a fool as one who is impious, that is one who gives no credence or concern about God.

The fool is easy to spot. They do say that there is no God. Their deeds reflect this fact. They do not concern themselves with any divine retribution or punishment for their beliefs or actions. In fact, their life centers around themselves. With such a mind, they do not seek to understand or to know God, or any god. They treat other people as food to provide themselves the nourishment for their physical and immoral pleasures.

It should be easy to spot these people in our lives. When we do they are to be pitied. For their lives will end without a hope for a good eternity. They should not be our role models for living life. They reflect a pagan culture that has been blinded by materialism and hedonism.

          Beware of their influences on you and on your children. They are subtle in how they live and how they communicate their impious nature to you. Without a solid grounding in God’s Word, Christians can fall victim to their foolishness. God has given us His Word as a shield against the fool and his foolishness. The wise will heed His teachings, and he will not be a fool any longer. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015


Psalm  13:1-2        How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?

A psalm of lament

            Think of the elderly who have no relatives to knock on the door to visit and bring human contact to the aged. Think of the children of the sub-Sahara regions of Africa who awaken each morning with no food to eat and little, if any, clean water to drink. Think of the father in the Middle East who awakens at night to sounds of bombs exploding outside the home where he, his wife and his children had lived in peace. Think of the family whose parents have been unemployed for since the economy collapsed in 2008. They all cry “How long, O Lord?”.

The psalmist senses in his day the absence of God. His thoughts are troubled as he reflects on his present condition and what life had been like in the past. The memories of provision, joy and community can only bring pain and sorrow to the present state of affairs. The enemy is using the past and the present to distance him from his God. The battle is real. It is waged in his life, mind, body and spirit.

 David was faithful to God and trusted wholeheartedly in him, but he felt the pressure of his problems as much as anyone. Instead of giving up or giving in, however, David held on to his faith. In times of despair, it is much harder to hold on than to give up. But if you give up on God, you give in to a life of despair.

Our remedy is trust in God’s unfailing love. We rejoice with other believers in the salvation he has given us in Christ Jesus. Remember the good God has done and battles of the past He was won for us. Today’s trouble will be short lived and He will bring us victory now and in the future.

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