Friday, January 6, 2017

Peaceful Repose

Peaceful Repose
“I lay down and slept, yet I woke up in safety, for the Lord was watching over me. I am not afraid of ten thousand enemies who surround me on every side.”         Psalm 3:5-6
King David was not a stranger to troubles. He experienced painful family issues – wayward sons, disloyalty, rape, and death. People under his rule turned against him and he had to flee for his life. In spite of these threatening difficulties, David continued to place his faith and confidence in the Lord his God. How else could he say, “I lay down and slept?”
   How do you and I respond when our day is filled with one problem after another? Do we allow anxiety to fill us with dread? Do we wring our hands in frustration? Do we get distraught and find it hard to function. Can we lay down our head on the pillow at night and rest?
   Our Lord Jesus faced some terrifying situations during his earthly walk? Satan tempted him three times in the wilderness to sin against God. The people of Nazareth attempted to throw him off a cliff. The Pharisees tried on several occasions to trick him. The religious leaders accused him of blasphemy. His brothers and sisters denied he was God. The Sadducees plotted against him. All of these attempts to discredit Jesus ended up in failure.
   Like David, Jesus was able to lay down and sleep in “Peaceful repose.” It reminds me of his experience with the disciples while on the Sea of Galilee in the midst of a fierce storm, “Jesus himself was in the stern asleep on the cushion…”  (Mark 4:38)
   If we trust the Lord and seek to do his will, He will work on our behalf even while we’re asleep; “He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. The Lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade. The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night.” (Psalm 121:3 and 5)

Prayer: Dear Lord, I thank you for the nights rest and your protection over me.   

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Bob Delaney: Jesus -- Our Bodyguard

Bob Delaney: Jesus -- Our Bodyguard: Jesus our bodyguard “But you, O Lord, are a shield around me; you are my glory, the one who holds my head high.” (Psalm 3:3) Usually...

Jesus -- Our Bodyguard

Jesus our bodyguard
“But you, O Lord, are a shield around me; you are my glory, the one who holds my head high.” (Psalm 3:3)
Usually only wealthy or prominent people hire bodyguards such as presidents, celebrities, mob bosses, famous athletes, and kings. Most of us can hardly imagine having someone walking by our side every day of the year watching, guarding, and protecting us. Without our even being aware of his presence, we have the Lord Jesus walking beside us as our bodyguard. He has a multitude of guardian angels who are assigned to help to manage our security.
   If only I had known of this protection as a child, what a difference it might have made. I was harassed, bullied, chased, pushed, beaten and berated from the time I stared school until about the age of fourteen. It took a long time for me to build up the courage to say, “Enough is enough” and defend myself.
   David was clearly in the need of a bodyguard. His son, Absalom spent hours and days building up support to overthrow his father, the king. He was handsome, a smooth talker, and a gifted liar who knew how to please the people and steal their hearts. (2 Sam. 15:1-6).
   Why had God allowed this disgraceful uprising? It was part of the consequences of David’s adulterous sin with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband, Uriah. God in his grace forgave David when he confessed, but he reaped bitter family problems – death of his son born to Bathsheba and rape of his daughter Tamar and the final death of his sons Ammon, Absalom, and Adonijah.
   Like David, we often suffer hardships of our own making or from the actions of others, but we can say with confidence that God is our shield. David’s faith and dependence was in the Lord. We, too, can cry out to God, like David did, and know that he will answer us. (Ps. 3:4) Our Savior, the Lord Jesus, is our bodyguard and walks beside us through all the storms of life.
   Do you daily trust in Jesus -- your bodyguard?
Prayer: Dear Lord, I need you, Lord Jesus, to be my bodyguard – watch over me.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

God's Son Reigns

God’s Son Reigns
“Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like clay jars.” (Ps. 2:8-90)
In this section of Psalm 2, the Heavenly Father highlights and exalts his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. The sonship of Christ is reinforced by the Apostle Paul in Acts 13:33, “that God has fulfilled his promise to our children in that He raised up Jesus, as it is also written in the second Psalm, ‘You are My Son; today I have begotten You.” The fact of Jesus being the only begotten Son of God is also referenced in John 3:16 and at Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist, “and behold, a voice out of heaven said, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”
   Here in Psalm 2, the Father promised the Son complete victory over the nations. He will set up His kingdom and rule the peoples of the world with a “rod of iron,” meaning that total righteousness will prevail. Anyone who rebels against the Son’s authority will be dealt with swiftly and justly. In that day, all dissenters will be shattered and smashed down like broken clay jars. Warren Wiersbe in his commentary “Be Worshipful” says, “Before going to battle, ancient eastern kings participated in a ritual of breaking clay jars that symbolized the enemy army and thus guaranteed the help of the gods to defeat them. Jesus needs no such folly; He smashes His enemies completely (Rev. 19:11ff; Dan. 2:42-44.
   Make no mistake! The “futile rebellion” of the nations will bring only laughter from the one who sits enthroned in heaven. God is in full control of all events, seasons, times, people, places, and nations.
   What should be our response in light of these truths? The Psalmist said it best, “Worship the Lord with reverence and rejoice with trembling. Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!
   There it is! He is our refuge, our strength, our delight, and our savior.

Prayer: Dear Lord, in time of trouble there is no one else to go to but you, O Lord.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Bob Delaney: Laughing and Scoffing

Bob Delaney: Laughing and Scoffing: Laughter and Scoffing “He who is enthroned in heaven laughs” (Ps. 2:4) What picture comes to your mind as you envision God sitting o...

Laughing and Scoffing

Laughter and Scoffing
“He who is enthroned in heaven laughs” (Ps. 2:4)
What picture comes to your mind as you envision God sitting on His throne? Do you see Him looking down on earth with a smile of pleasure on His face, or do you visualize Him looking down with a scroll of displeasure? Would it come as a shock and surprise to find out that God laughs?
   I remember the shock the first time I heard someone refer to Jesus as a “party goer” as if it was somehow wrong or irreverent to picture Him in that manner. Jesus loved parties. He was involved along with his mother at the wedding at Cana (John 2:1-12). He went to Zacchaeus’ house and Simon’s for a celebration. But to hear that God laughs would be a surprise to many. Our concept of God may well depend upon the level of our understanding and relationship to Him.
   The peaceful scene that is described in Psalm 2:4 is a great contrast to the roar and rage pictured on earth. Down here the nations are in rebellion against the God who loved them so much that “He sent his only begotten son to die for their sin,” while in heaven we find God sitting on his throne laughing at their feeble efforts. Little do the nations realize that they have been weighed and found wanting.
   It was God who set David upon his throne, and gave him victory over his enemies. Now in heaven God laughs in mockery and scoffs at the futile rebellion on earth. He speaks to them in his anger and terrifies them in his fury saying, “I have installed My King upon Zion, My holy mountain.” Yes, it is Jesus the son of David who is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. In that day He will occupy his throne and rule the nations with a rod of iron. (Revelation 19:11-16)
   Are you ready for that day when King Jesus, the Son of David, comes in the clouds to receive His bride and escort her to His heavenly home? Only those who have believed in Jesus as their Savior will qualify to be a part of that great celebration.
   In 2017, all believers need to be looking and listening for that trumpet call.

Prayer: Dear Lord, we are looking for the day when our King, Jesus Christ, returns.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Futile Rebellion

Futile Rebellion
“Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed, saying, ‘Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles.’” (Psalm 2:1-2)
Several contrasts exist between Psalm 1 and 2. Psalm 1emphasizes the law, while Psalm 2 focuses our attention on prophecy. In Psalm 1, we see the godly versus the ungodly, while in Psalm 2 we see the wicked in rebellion while God sits on his throne and laughs. Psalm 1 is never quoted in the New Testament, while Psalm 2 is quoted directly or alluded to at least seventeen times.
   Psalm 2 begins with a rhetorical question that requires no answer. The question asked is more of an astonishment than a question. After establishing the peoples and nations, after providing for their basic needs, after guiding them and keeping them alive, and after sending a Savior to bring forgiveness and salvation, why would anyone possibly want to rebel and cast off all authority?
   Where did this rebellion get its beginning? In the larger sense, rebellion began in the beginning when Adam and Eve disregarded God’s command by eating of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. It generated into a conspiracy during the Tower of Babel and continued down through history to the Crucifixion of Christ and ends with the Battle of Armageddon.
   This “futile rebellion” has as its goal the defiance of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, the Son of God as clearly stated in Luke 19:14, “But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’”
   Jesus said that the world hated him and would also hate those who followed him Matthew 24:9, “Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of my name.” The phrase “set themselves” means “get ready for war.”
   We are in a spiritual warfare and must be diligent and on guard to defend the “truth.” Thank God that Psalm 2:4-6 reveals Him still in control.
Prayer: Dear Lord, I can be at peace because you are still on your throne in control.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Useless Chaff

Useless Chaff
“The wicked are not so, but they are like chaff which the wind drives away.” (Psalm 1:4-6)
The first half of Psalm 1 describes the godly person and the blessings coming to him, while the last half focuses on the ungodly who will perish. The wicked are pictured in Scripture as “chaff.”
   When grain is harvested and placed in piles on the threshing floor the servants beat it with a rod. The harvesters throw up the beaten grain and the wind blows the chaff away. It is later gathered and thrown into the fire to be burned. In contrast to the righteous, who are like fruitful trees and blessed, the ungodly are dead, rootless, blown about, and destined for the garbage heap. No wonder Jesus used the garbage dump outside Jerusalem (gehenna) as a picture of hell, because that’s where the useless waste ends up in the fire.
   Have you ever seen a garbage dump on fire? It gives off a noxious smell that permeates the air making it hard to breathe. Often times the fire releases toxic fumes that can cause permanent health issues and even death. Such a place is alleged to exist in Bridgeton, Mo. Another is an underground fire in a coal mine in Colorado that has been burning for years.
   John the Baptist used these same images of the tree, fruit, and chaff to warn sinners to repent in Matthew 3; “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will thoroughly clear his threshing floor; and he will gather his wheat into the barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (Mt. 3:7b, 12)
   What is the responsibility of the righteous in relation to the wicked? Are we to ignore their plight and stand aside to watch them fall into the fire?
   According to the Psalmist in verses 1-3, the godly are to reach out to the ungodly with the gospel.

Prayer: Dear Lord, I pray that 2017 will provide many opportunities to share Christ.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Fruitful Trees

Fruitful Trees
“That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither – whatever they do prospers.” (Psalm 1:3)  
     Both beauty and blessing are ascribed to trees. The Bartlett pear is known as one of America’s most famous trees. Its blossoms in the spring are a source of beauty and its luscious fruit in the fall are favorites for eating and canning preserves. Also noted for its beautiful blossoms in the spring are the Magnolia and Cherry trees. In the fall, we can enjoy the red, yellow, orange, and purple foliage of the sugar maple, bald cypress, aspen, sassafras, and sweetgum.
   The tree is a familiar image in the Scripture. In the Garden of Eden, God used the “tree of knowledge of good and evil” to test Adam and Eve’s obedience. He used a tree to symbolize Nebuchadnezzar’s downfall and loss of his kingdom due to pride. In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus uses the “mustard seed” which becomes a tree to describe the expanse of the kingdom of heaven.
   Like a tree, the Psalmist describes a godly person as alive, beautiful, fruitful, useful and enduring. The most important part of a tree is its hidden root system that draws up water and nourishment from the soil. Without a steady stream of these ingredients the root system would shrivel up and the tree would die.
   The most important part of the believer’s spiritual root system is the Lord Jesus Christ and the word of God. Our spiritual vitality is dependent upon our drawing upon the life giving nutrients from the Lord. These are obtained by our “abiding in Christ,” and feeding upon the Scriptures. (John 15:1-9)
    Two types of flowers can be planted – annuals or perennials. I prefer the perennials that will regenerate themselves year after year. Like perennials, believers who abide in Christ will continue to stay fresh, green, and fruitful all year long. We must remember, a tree or plant doesn’t eat its own fruit – others eat it. Fruit comes from life, the life of God flowing in and through us.

Prayer; Dear Lord, help me continue to feed my “spiritual roots” through the word of God and prayer. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Snorkeler or Diver

 Snorkeler or Diver
“But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night.        (Psalm 1:2)
My daughter loves to spend her vacation in areas where there is pure, clear water good for snorkeling. She has snorkeled in Hawaii, Mexico, and next year plans to go to the Bahamas. The snorkeler swims just below the surface along the reefs where there are thousands of multi-colored fish, crustaceans, starfish, and other sea creatures. To go deeper would require a diving suit with attached air hose and weighted shoes. A person would need special training before trying deep diving. It would be advisable to begin with a course on snorkeling before attempting anything more advanced.
   Part of my training for the U.S. Navy was to jump in a pool and see how long I could hold my breath while swimming under water. The average time one can hold their breath is approximately two minutes. We had one sailor who could stay under water for three minutes. He had fantastic lung power and qualified to be a submariner.
   When you apply these facts to the Christian life we find that believers have two choices to make each day. We can approach our daily Bible reading as a snorkeler or as a deep sea diver.
   The snorkeler is identified as the person who stays near the surface, satisfied with nourishment found in the shallows. The Bible speaks of snorkelers as “newborn babies, who crave the pure milk of the word.” (1 Peter 2:2) On the other hand, you may be like the deep sea divers who dig into the “meat of the word.”
   Are you a snorkeler or a deep sea diver when it comes to your daily meditation on the word of God? It’s okay to be a snorkeler once in a while, but to grow in the word we need to follow the example of the Psalmist and study, reflect, and meditate on the law of the Lord “day and night.”

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me move on from being a snorkeler to a deep sea diver in your Word.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Two Ways to Walk

 Two Ways to Walk
“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers.” (Psalm 1:1)
Several days a week I take my wife, Elaine, over to the mall to join the walkers. Due to a lower back problem I find a chair to sit in and watch. Nothing is more interesting than watching people when they don’t realize you are watching. I see people who are walking at a fast pace with “fit bits” on their arms. Others are slowly plodding along barely able to put one foot in front of the other. Still others are walking either in a clockwise or counter-clockwise direction. Elaine walks around on one floor and then goes down the escalator to walk on the bottom level. Everyone seems to have the same purpose in mind.
   The Scriptures have a lot to say about walking. In Genesis 5:24 we are told, “Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.” And in Gen. 6:9 the Bible says, “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God.” God spoke to Abraham in Gen. 17:1 and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before Me, and be blameless.” Later on when the Israelites entered the Promise Land, Joshua had them walk around Jericho once each day for six days and seven times on the seventh day before the walls fell down.
   The writer of Psalm 1 presents to us two ways – the way of blessing and the way of judgment. The focus is upon God’s word and upon God’s blessing on those who obey it and meditate on it, and on His ultimate judgment on those who rebel.
   The word “blessed”is asher,” the name of one of Jacob’s sons. It’s in the plural form meaning – “O the happiness! O the blessedness!” The person described in Psalm One met the conditions and therefore God blessed him. If we want God’s blessing, we, too, must meet the conditions.
   Why does God pore out his blessing on us? So that we might become channels of God’s blessing to others. It’s a joy to receive a blessing but an even greater joy to be a blessing. “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)

Prayer: Dear Lord, make me a blessing to others as the new year approaches. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Lead us not into Temptation

Jesus’ Blueprint for Prayer
“Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one”
Every element in Jesus’ model prayer is focused on God and His glory. When we say “Father,” we acknowledge Him as source. When we say, “Hallowed be Thy name,” we acknowledge Him as sacred. When we say, “Thy kingdom come,” we declare Him as sovereign. When we say, “Thy will be done,” we regard Him as superior. When we say, “Give us our daily bread,” we acknowledge Him as our supplier. When we say, “Forgive us our sins,” we confirm Him as savior. Finally, we come to the last petition, “Lead us not into temptation,” which acknowledges Him as our shelter.
   The word “temptation” has a two-fold meaning. First, it can mean to tempt with the goal of causing one to sin. We know from James 1:13 that this kind of temptation never originates from God. James says, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he himself tempt anyone.” Second, the word “tempt” can mean a test to prove one’s validity of faith. James addresses this issue in Chapter 1:2-3, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.”
   David, the anointed of the Lord, was running from the grips of King Saul. He searched for a hiding place, a cave, a rock, a fortress, a place of safety and security. No permanent place was found. He finally came to realize that the only secure shelter was in God Himself. He expresses his faith in Psalm 62, “My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be shaken.” (vv. 5-6)
   Who do you turn to when temptation and testing comes? Is the Lord Jesus Christ your solid rock? Do you hide under his covering wing? Jesus said to pray, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”

Prayer: Dear Lord, you are my place of refuge, my rock, my fortress.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Forgive us our Debts

Jesus’ Blueprint for Prayer
“Forgive us our debts, as also we have forgiven our debtors”
In our model prayer, after we have asked God for provision, we ask for pardon. “Forgive” follows “Give.” These two requests for daily bread and forgiveness are linked together by the simple conjunction “and.” In so doing, the need for food is placed on the same level with forgiveness.
   Praying for forgiveness of wrong doing – sin is paramount to an admission of guilt. Many falsely assume that being saved means – no more sin and no more need of forgiveness. Nothing could be further from the truth.
   In the Apostle John’s writing to believers he says, “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:8-9)
   Not only are we told to ask forgiveness for sins we have committed as believers, but we are to forgive those who have committed wrongs against us.
   Corrie Ten Bloom relates her experience on forgiveness in her book, “The Hiding Place.”
   When she met one of her jailers all the memories and vengeful thoughts ran through her mind. As he extended his hand, she found herself unable to lift her arm. She tried to smile. She felt no warmth for him. NO charity. She silently prayed, “Jesus I can’t forgive him. Give me your forgiveness.” As she finally took his hand an incredible thing happened. A warm love for the man sprang from her shoulder and traveled down through her arm to her hand that almost overwhelmed her. She realized that when Jesus tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.
   William Barclay paraphrases the petition to read: “Forgive us our sins in proportion as we forgive those who have sinned against us.”

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to forgive others to the same extent that you have forgiven me. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Give us our Daily Food

Jesus’ Blueprint for Prayer
“Give us our daily bread”
   The first three requests in Jesus’ Blueprint for Prayer deal with God’s glory (“Your name,” “your kingdom,” and “your will”; whereas, the last three requests deal with the family (“give us, forgive us, and lead us.)”
   The prayer request “Give us our daily bread” brings to mind the situation in regards to the children of Israel during their march through the wilderness of sin. They grumbled against Moses because of a lack of food.
   Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether or not they will walk in My instruction.” (Ex. 16:4)
   They were being tested to see if they would trust God for their daily needs. No refrigerators or ice chests to preserve the “manna.” If they tried to gather more than one day’s portion, it would rot and grow maggots. God established rules for them to live by.
   Did you know that every kitchen and dining room table has rules? I definitely remember some rules my parents set down. We were to say, “Please pass the _____ followed by the words “thank you.” Another was “don’t leave the table until your plate is clean,” and have asked to be “excused.”
   My favorite table story is about the father with nine sons. The rule of his kitchen table was simple: Dad gets the last piece of chicken. If he doesn’t want it, the fastest fork wins. One night, as all ten eyed the final piece on the plate, a thunderstorm caused an electrical blackout. There was a scream in the dark, and when the lights returned, the dad’s hand was on the chicken platter with nine forks sticking in it.
   It was a wise practice at our table to all hold hands while thanking the Lord for the food. This prevents anyone from cheating. Watch out when you hear Amen!

Prayer: Dear Lord, how I thank you for continuing to supply our daily food!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Thy Will be Done

Jesus’ Blueprint for Prayer
“Thy will be done”
We are instructed to pray for the person of God, that His name be hallowed; for the program of God, that His kingdom will come; and for the purpose of God, that His will shall be done on earth as it is in heaven.
   We are asking that God’s will be done in our lives and in the world. Unfortunately, our prayers don’t always follow those principles. Instead, we pray for our own self-interests, and ignore God’s purpose. We ask God to change the world so we can get what we want.
   To truly pray “thy will be done” is to seek the heart of God. God has gone to great lengths to reveal His will and plan to us.
   Consider how He dealt with the two dispirited disciples on the road to Emmaus. These two guys made three mistakes that Jesus graciously turned into principles to help them determine His will.
   Mistake #1 – They disregarded the words of their fellow disciples. God often reveals His will through a community of believers. He speaks to one member of the church through another member.
Mistake #2 – They disregarded the Word of God. Jesus corrected this mistake by coming alongside and giving them a Bible study through the prophets. He revealed his will and purpose through the scripture. Doesn’t he do the same today?
Mistake #3 – They walked with God but didn’t recognize Him. The key to knowing God’s will is to spend time in his presence. When the two disciples finally recognized Jesus for who He was; he disappeared. They said to each other, “It felt like a fire burning in us when Jesus talked to us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us.”
   Do you want to know God’s will and see His will done here on earth? Follow these three principles in prayer.

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to spend time in your presence in prayer.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Your Kingdom Come

Jesus’ Blueprint for Prayer
“your kingdom come”
In our first request we asked God to cause that “his name be believed, feared, obeyed, and glorified.” Now in our second request, Jesus says to pray “THY Kingdom come.” Who’s kingdom is Jesus referring in the word “THY?”
   There are three kingdoms to consider. (1) The kingdom of this world, (2) The kingdom controlled by Satan (Eph. 2:2), and (3) the kingdom of God. A study of history will reveal that the first two kingdom rise and fall, but the third kingdom is permanent.
   Ancient history records that Egypt was once a powerful kingdom, but it fell. The same can be said of Syria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. Historians tell us there were 21-22 great world civilizations that have come and gone.
   The Scriptures reveal that God is the author of history – it is His story. The history that he is writing ultimately leads to the return of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, who will rule in righteousness when the kingdom of this world becomes the kingdom of our God and His Christ. (cf. Rev. 11:15)
   All through his earthly ministry Jesus preached about this spiritual kingdom to come. In Luke 4:43 Jesus said, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose.” The word “also” indicates that preaching the kingdom of God was the central factor in his ministry.
   What are we asking God to do when we pray, “Thy kingdom come?” I believe we are asking God to cause his kingdom to grow both spiritually and physically. His kingdom grows in numbers “one soul at a time.” He has chosen believers to help in this process. His kingdom advances also as we increase in our submission to Christ.
   Do you daily pray, “THY kingdom come?” Are you increasing in your submission to Christ? Time is of an essence? Jesus is coming soon – come Lord Jesus. (Rev. 22:20)

Prayer: Dear Lord, help us to be diligent in praying souls into the kingdom of God.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Hallowed be Your Name

Jesus’ Blueprint for Prayer
“Hallowed be Your name”
In the model prayer, Jesus taught the disciples to say, “Our Father in heaven, HALLOWED BE YOUR NAME.”
   What’s in a name? The Jewish people chose names for their children in hopes the name would embody the personality or character behind the name. Early American Puritan followed the same practice. They gave their children names like Silence, Charity, Hope, Love, and Patience. Today, Christians give their children Biblical names such as Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, etc. with the hope their child would live up to the name. Even Jesus followed this practice as he changed the name of Simon to Peter. Simon was a shifty, impetuous, unstable, unlearned fisherman; whereas, Jesus wanted him to become Peter (meaning a “rock”).
   The words, hallowed be Your name,” are a reference to God’s character and person. To hallow means “to sanctify, to set apart, to make special.” The opposite of hallow is “to profane, to disgrace, to besmirch the name.” When we pray, “hallowed be Your name,” we are not only expressing reverence to God and calling upon Him to be God to us, but we are recognizing that he is Holy.
    Our focus on God’s character and holiness should be reflected in our inner life and in our prayers for others. Our prayers for others should not be limited to their deliverance from sin, but also that they would come to know who he really is – the God of holiness, grace, and righteousness. Once they fully understand who He is, they will hallow His name.
    The question is: will you allow God to be God in your life? Will you honor and reverence Him not only in your prayer life, but your behavior as well?

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to live a life of holiness that honors and reverences your name – “hallowed be your name” in heaven and here on earth. Amen!      

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Jesus' Blueprint for Prayer

Jesus’ Blueprint for Prayer
With the second phrase, “who IS in heaven” Jesus emphasizes the necessity of a firm foundation. The basis for this foundation is the character of God.
   The character of God is clearly seen in His dialogue with Moses at the burning bush. It is first seen when Moses sees a bush burning with fire, but is not consumed. Then God tells him to remove his sandals because he is standing on holy ground. Next, we see His character when God says to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM…” (Ex. 3:14) The “who is” and the “I AM” refer to the same person.
   We see in other Scriptures that God’s character is closely associated with establishing a solid foundation. The Psalmist said, “He established the earth upon its foundation, so that it will not totter forever and ever.” (Ps. 104:5) To Job God said, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” (Job 38:4) Solomon stated, “God marked out the foundation of the earth” (Pr. 8:29)
   When Elaine and I built our first house on a hillside outside Hermann, Mo., we make doubly sure that the footing (foundation) for the house was laid well below the frost line. The entire weight of the superstructure rested upon that foundation. Thirty-six years have passed and the house is still standing.
   Our prayer life is not only dependent upon the character of “who God is,” but also upon the fact that he is firmly established in heaven ruling the universe. Nothing happens that escapes his attention. He knows all and sees all. It is assuring to know and believe that our God “who IS,” is in full control of all that takes place in heaven and on earth.
   Is your prayer life firmly established upon the character of God?  Just remember he is the God is the present tense.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you that we can begin our prayers with “Our Father who IS in heaven.”

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Our Father

Jesus’ Blueprint for Prayer
‘OUR FATHER’
After following Jesus for two years, watching him perform many miracles, listening to him teach and preach, spending time with him alone, and hearing him call on His Heavenly Father in prayer, they came to him and asked, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples.” (Luke 11:1)
   Jesus gathered them around him and gave them a prayer model or format to follow. He told them that a good way to begin prayer is to address God as “Our Father…”
   To a Jewish person who adhered strictly to the Law, the words “Our Father” would seem foreign, maybe even blasphemous. At no time during the Old Testament period would your ever hear a Jew using those words. Yet, because of Jesus’ death and resurrection , we are instructed over 275 times in the New Testament to address God as “Our Father.”
   The term our -- speaks of ownership. When you go to buy a car and pay the price, you become owner of the car. That’s what Jesus did for us on the cross. He shed his blood to purchase our redemption and we now belong to him. He is the owner of our soul.
   The term father – speaks of the personal relationship we have with the owner.  During my boyhood years when I needed consolation, comfort, or help with a problem, I went to my father. As my earthly father he loved and took care of my needs. Now as a believer I can go to my Heavenly Father in my hour of need.

Prayer, Dear Lord, thank you for making it possible for me to address you as Our Father.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Jesus' Blueprint for Prayers

Jesus’ Blueprint for Prayer
Introduction
“Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples” (Luke 11:1)
If you follow this series of devotions on my Facebook page, you will learn in what manner you, as a follower of Jesus, should approach the throne of God, and what should be included in your daily prayers.
   After spending two years with Jesus, witnessing his miracles, listening to him teach and pray, they came to him one day and said, “Lord teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.” I find this a remarkable question! What would I have asked if I were in their place? Would I have asked, Lord teach me to preach like you do, or Lord teach me how to do ministry? Not the disciples! They wanted Jesus to teach them how to pray.
   Fascinating! Isn’t prayer one of the easier tasks for a believer? Haddon Robinson in his study guide on “Jesus’ Blueprint for Prayer” said, “Frankly, prayer has proven to be the most demanding discipline of my life. At different times I have found it strenuous, boring, frustrating and confusing. Over the years a solid prayer-life has been more intermittent than persistent.” I can certainly echo Mr. Robinson’s admittance.
   Jesus’ disciples had a tremendous advantage. Oftentimes when Jesus went up to the mountain to pray, they were with him. They listened to him pray in the garden, on a hillside, in front of thousands of people, in the wilderness, in the desert, and on a boat. Most if not all of Jesus’ prayers were done outside. We find no evidence of Jesus praying in a house or in the temple.
    I have found over the years that my most intimate prayer times have been outside walking along mountain trails, or sitting on a bank fishing, or up in a tree stand during hunting season waiting for daylight to arrive. The quietness and stillness bring a sense of solitude where man and God can meet.
   Is prayer high on your priority list, or just a mundane religious duty?

Prayer: Dear Lord, teach me your blueprint for prayer.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Stand Your Ground

Stand Your Ground
Scripture Reading: Exodus 14:1-14
But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” (Ex. 14:13-14 NLT)
A growling, snarling dog is charging. What should you do? One part of your mind says, stand still, but another part says, let’s get out of here. The dog appears to be in an attack mode, and as fear whelms up in your throat your feet seem to be paralyzed. Standing your ground in the face of threatening circumstances may be the hardest thing you’ll ever be called upon to do. It certainly was for the children of Israel.
     The children of Israel faced such a situation when they came to the Red Sea. The ground was shaking from the rumble of the many chariots racing toward them. They were terrified and complained to Moses. What shall we do? Where can we hide? They were caught between the sea and the advancing army of the Egyptians. They couldn’t go back even if they wanted to and the mountains and sea had them  hemmed in on all sides. All appeared to be lost. Moses called out to God and then commanded them to, “Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.” I’m sure they must have thought, Are you serious Moses? Don’t you hear the rumble of the chariots? Can’t you feel the shaking of the ground under our feet? Stand still , you say! We are about to be overtaken and slaughtered and you want us to stand still. That’s ridiculous! You’re out of your mind. We want to run and hide except there’s nowhere to go. That’s what fear will do to a person. Fear paralyzes our minds. Only as we exercise faith can we move forward.
     What would you have thought? How would you have responded? The growling, snarling dog is getting closer. Can’t wait much longer! If I decide to stand still, I will have to exercise faith and trust in the Lord. That’s what the children of Israel had to do. The Lord God was testing their faith to see if they would rely completely upon him for their salvation. Finally, the Lord gave the command to move forward. This was another test of their faith.
     Our faith is being tested on a daily basis. How will we handle life’s struggles? Will we try to handle everything in our own strength? Will we rely upon our own abilities to see us through? Or will we be like the children of Israel and be willing to stand still and see how God works things out? Trying circumstances have a way of showing up at our doorstep. When our paycheck doesn’t come! When our child is sick! When we are misunderstood and falsely accused! When we face circumstances that threaten our security, do we reach out by faith and lay hold upon the promises of God, or do we allow fear to immobilize us?

     The Psalmist said, “But you, O Lord, are a shield to me, my glory, and the one who lifts my head high” (Ps. 3:3). Stand fast and trust the one who is fighting for you. The battle is the Lords.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Sharing Christ

Sharing Christ with Others
Scripture Reading: Matthew 9:27-38
Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. (Mt. 9:36 NASB)
Have you ever struggled to turn a conversation to spiritual things? I look upon every meeting as though it were an appointment set up by God. To me, the easiest way to connect with people is to get them on the subject of travel. Here’s an example:
     I met a friend at Walmart and he said, “I’m bushed. I just spent a week at an International Conference in North Carolina.” I responded, “I know what you mean. I just came back from prison.” His questioning look gave me the opportunity to tell him about our mission trip to Angola State prison in Zachary, La. Of course, there was more to the conversation, but you get the idea. If you have done Christian service assignments there is always an opportunity to share your spiritual service with others. Just get the ball rolling and let the Holy Spirit direct the conversation and you’ll be amazed how doors open to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.
     The biggest hurdle that I have found in sharing Christ is the fear of rejection. What if someone shuts the door in your face? What if they totally reject what you are saying? Be polite! Thank them for allowing you to bring up the subject of Christ. Do not be discouraged. The Holy Spirit knows when a person is ready to listen to the gospel. Trust in his timing. Try to end the conversation on an amiable note. There may be other times and opportunities down the road to speak to that person again.
     Jesus used lots of different ways to get the attention of people. On the seashore he sat in a boat and taught them about his relationship to God. On a hillside he proved who he was by using the multiplication five loaves and two sardines. At a gravesite he used life giving powers. At a wedding he used six water pots of water. On the road to Emmaus he used the Old Testament Scriptures. In the Temple he used a whip. On one occasion he put a coin in a fish’s mouth, and on another occasion the hem of his garment got a woman’s attention. He even used a sycamore tree to get Zaccheus’s attention. In the final analysis, what do all these different ways and means tell us? Simply this, there is no one set method of sharing Christ with others.
     Whenever you go out into your mission field, ask the Holy Spirit to lead and guide your thoughts and conversations with those you meet. Every person you encounter is an appointment waiting to happen. Be prepared to give a reason to every man for your faith in Christ.

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to be like the Apostle Paul who said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ because it is the power of God unto salvation…” (Rom. 1:16a)

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Open Letter to the Lord

Open Letter to the Lord
Scripture Reading: 2 Kings 19:14-28
After Hezekiah received the letter and read it, he went up to the Lord’s Temple and spread it out before the Lord. (2 Kings 19:14 NLT)
Can you hear and feel the threatening tone, the arrogance, the utter disdain directed toward Israel’s God in the letter from King Sennacherib of Assyria. It was enough to put a chill down your spine. It sounded like disaster was about to strike. What a dilemma!
     What would King Hezekiah do? How would he react to this dilemma? Would he give in to temptation and take the deal? Let’s apply the situation to our own dilemmas! How do we deal with the dilemmas of life when they occur such as: a child who is hopelessly handicapped and can’t speak or take proper care of himself. It may be through no fault of his own, nevertheless, the burden of responsibility hangs over our heads like a cloud. We may ask, “Lord, will I ever be free of this burden? Will there ever be a time when he/she will be able to live outside the home? It is a supreme test of the depth of our love and commitment. At times, we may be tempted to throw up our hands in despair and cry out, “How long, O Lord, must I bear this burden?” I wonder, “Was that how Hezekiah felt?”
     God saw the open letter full of accusations, false promises, and blasphemous words and sent a message through his prophet, Isaiah saying, “His armies (speaking of Sennacherib) will never enter Jerusalem to shoot their arrows. They will not march outside the gates with their shields and build banks of earth against its walls. For my own honor and for the sake of my servant David, I will defend it” (2 Kings 19:32,34 NLT).
     The Scriptures tell us, “That night the angel of the Lord went out to the Assyrian camp and killed 185,000 Assyrian troops. When the surviving Assyrians woke up the next morning, they found corpses everywhere. Then King Sennacherib of Assyria broke camp and returned to his own land. He went home to his capital of Nineveh and stayed there.” (2 Kings 19:35-36 NLT ) Later he was killed by two of his own sons, who then escaped to Ararat.
     What kind of dilemma are you facing today? Is it in a tangible form, such as a threatening letter? Is the situation taxing your faith? Are you in need of wisdom, courage, or direction? Write it on a piece of paper. Spread your open letter on the floor, and bow before the Lord in honest, pleading, persistent prayer.

Prayer: Dear Lord, you know the dilemma I face. You know that I don’t have a solution. You alone offer rescue from desperate situations. I come to you first, not as a last resort.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Sharing Christ

Sharing Christ with Others
Scripture Reading: Matthew 9:27-38
Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. (Mt. 9:36 NASB)
Have you ever struggled to turn a conversation to spiritual things? I look upon every meeting as though it were an appointment set up by God. To me, the easiest way to connect with people is to get them on the subject of travel. Here’s an example:
     I met a friend at Walmart and he said, “I’m bushed. I just spent a week at an International Conference in North Carolina.” I responded, “I know what you mean. I just came back from prison.” His questioning look gave me the opportunity to tell him about our mission trip to Angola State prison in Zachary, La. Of course, there was more to the conversation, but you get the idea. If you have done Christian service assignments there is always an opportunity to share your spiritual service with others. Just get the ball rolling and let the Holy Spirit direct the conversation and you’ll be amazed how doors open to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.
     The biggest hurdle that I have found in sharing Christ is the fear of rejection. What if someone shuts the door in your face? What if they totally reject what you are saying? Be polite! Thank them for allowing you to bring up the subject of Christ. Do not be discouraged. The Holy Spirit knows when a person is ready to listen to the gospel. Trust in his timing. Try to end the conversation on an amiable note. There may be other times and opportunities down the road to speak to that person again.
     Jesus used lots of different ways to get the attention of people. On the seashore he sat in a boat and taught them about his relationship to God. On a hillside he proved who he was by using the multiplication five loaves and two sardines. At a gravesite he used life giving powers. At a wedding he used six water pots of water. On the road to Emmaus he used the Old Testament Scriptures. In the Temple he used a whip. On one occasion he put a coin in a fish’s mouth, and on another occasion the hem of his garment got a woman’s attention. He even used a sycamore tree to get Zaccheus’s attention. In the final analysis, what do all these different ways and means tell us? Simply this, there is no one set method of sharing Christ with others.
     Whenever you go out into your mission field, ask the Holy Spirit to lead and guide your thoughts and conversations with those you meet. Every person you encounter is an appointment waiting to happen. Be prepared to give a reason to every man for your faith in Christ.

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to be like the Apostle Paul who said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ because it is the power of God unto salvation…” (Rom. 1:16a)

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Passing on Blessings

Passing on Blessings
Scripture Reading: Deuteronomy 4:9-14
But watch out! Be careful never to forget what you yourself have seen. Do not let these memories escape from your mind as long as you live! And be sure to pass them on to your children and grandchildren. (Dt. 4:9 NLT)
A few years ago I was challenged by a friend to pass on the blessings bestowed on my life by God’s grace to others. The verse quoted above affirmed that that was what God wanted me to do. After much prayer, I decided this was sound advice and picked up the pen. I began by sending notes of encouragement to friends at church. After awhile God motivated me to write a monthly letter to each of my children. I called them Abraham’s Musings. Each month for a period of a year I shared with them what God was doing in my life, and passed on his blessings to them.
     Inspired by the response to this venture, I spent considerable time writing my autobiography. I entitled the book God’s Unfolding Plan. In it I explained how I came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, and the various twists and turns I experienced in finding the meaning to life. God blessed this effort, and not only did I receive healing for past unresolved family issues, especially with my father, but others who read the story testified to similar results.
     This writing experience was followed by writing life experience stories which were printed in such publications as Country Magazine, Good Old Days, Looking Back, and Reminisce Extra. Writing has had a therapeutic value in my life, and I hope in the lives of those who read the stories.
     Like Martin Luther King, I had a dream! My dream was to share the word of God with individuals in an effort to draw them closer to Christ. In order to fulfill this dream, I began to write Bible based devotions that tied in with personal experiences.. I endeavored to share with others the challenges, obstacles, twists and turns, and the portions of Scripture that God used to help me overcome. My first devotional book entitled A-Z Daily Devotional Journal was published in 2010 and a second volume entitled Let Jesus Start Your Day will come off the press in a few weeks. 
     I find that recalling experiences from the past (sixty years) and sharing them with others keeps me closer to the Lord. As I read and study God’s word, memories flood my mind as to how God helped me overcome the obstacles and struggles of life. Hopefully I can translate those victories into words that will help someone else who may be struggling with their faith and walk.
     You too can pass on God’s blessings to others. Give it a try.

Prayer: Dear Lord, continue to pour out your blessings, and help us share them with others. 

Friday, April 1, 2016

Hurry Up and Wait

Hurry Up and Wait
Scripture Reading: Isaiah 40:28-31
“But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” (Is. 40:31 NKJ)
One thing I learned early during my enlistment in the U.S. Navy is the truth of this off repeated statement—hurry up and wait. Time after time we marched down to the mess hall for chow only to have to wait. During graduation exercises, we had to wait in formation for two hours before passing in review. It was a very hot day and several of the men in my platoon passed out. It wasn’t a pleasant experience, and one that I definitely do not want to repeat. It seemed to me that the military operates on the hurry up and wait principle.
     Much the same holds true in civilian life. No one likes to wait, whether it’s in a long line at the grocery store, or at the airline ticket counter, or for a family member to get ready for church. I have a friend who was always late because his wife took forever to get ready. He would threaten, “I’m going to leave without you,” but it never seemed to help.
     Waiting is tough, especially since we are living in such a fast paced society. Instant gratification seems to rule the day. People want it NOW! How many times have you drummed your fingers on the steering wheel while waiting in a traffic jam? When a vehicle breaks down and traffic is reduced to one lane, cars and trucks back up for miles waiting to get past. Yes, waiting is tough, especially when it comes to the big issues like: waiting to be seen in an emergency room of a hospital, waiting to hear about a job interview, waiting for a tow truck after a breakdown, or waiting for an answer to an urgent prayer.
     God doesn’t always answer our prayers when we think he should, or in the way we desire, but he always answers. The answer may be positive or negative, or he may say—wait. Our part is to trust him when the answer is delayed. God’s timing is always perfect, and he has our best interest in mind.
     Do you think it was easy for Abraham to have to wait thirteen years before realizing the promise of a son? Was it easy for Noah to wait for rain to come? How did David handle waiting seven years to become king? What were Mary’s thoughts while she waited for the son of God to be born? The Scriptures tell us that they all continued to trust in his perfect timing.
     Have you been praying about an important issue and found God silent? Are you doing like David, “I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry.” (Ps. 40:1 NLT)

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to waiting patiently for your answers to my prayers. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

A Broken Heart

A Broken Heart
Scripture Reading: Genesis 6:1-22
“Now the Lord observed the extent of the people’s wickedness, and he saw all their thoughts were consistently and totally evil. So the Lord was sorry he had ever made them. It broke his heart.” (Gen 6:5-6 NLT)
Unholy alliances between fallen angels and the sons of man brought about giants who were known as “renown.” These supernatural beings were evil and ravaged the earth to the extent that God was sorry that he had created man. The Bible says, “It broke his heart.” (Gen. 6:6)
     The evil was so widespread that God decided to wipe out the human race. Noah was the only righteous man that found favor in the eyes of the Lord. A broken heart leads to disastrous results.
     Years ago my wife and I visited the famous Longwood Mansion in Natchez, Mississippi. The construction of this unique octagonal shaped plantation home began in 1861, but was never finished because of the Civil War. When war started the workers dropped their tools and joined the Confederate army in the fight against the Union. The inside of the house was never finished except for the basement which was completed by local workers after the war.
     According to various internet sources Dr. Haller Nutt died of a broken heart when Union troops ravaged his plantation despite the fact that he carried papers identifying him as an important Federalist. The story is told that his wife, Julia, later sued the U.S. Government over this issue and won a large monetary reward that she used to send all their children to college.
     A broken heart, shattered dreams, lost wealth and loved ones can cause a person to take drastic actions even bringing harm to themselves and others. We have seen reports of young people taking their lives because of bullying, and soldiers committing suicide due to the extreme pressure and stress of military conflict.
     In the video, Home Alone 2, a “pigeon lady” in New York Central Park isolated herself from society because of a broken heart when she was left standing at the altar. When young Kevin McCallister encouraged her to make friends she said, “I don’t want my heart broken again.”
     Have you ever experienced a broken heart? Perhaps you lost your favorite pet, or best friend, a loved one, or a longtime business partner. How did you handle the loss? Who or what did you turn to for solace?
     God is the one person who understands our grief. He knows what separation means? While on     the cross Jesus said, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Turn to him for comfort.

Prayer: Dear Lord, my heart grieves for those who are suffering the loss of a loved one or friend. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Screaming Demons

The Screaming Demons
As Jesus was climbing out of the boat, a man who was possessed by demons came out to meet him. As soon as he saw Jesus, he shrieked and fell to the ground before him, screaming, “Why are you bothering me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Please, I beg you, don’t torture me!” (Luke 8:27-28)
The encounter of the demon possessed man and Jesus provided another opportunity for Jesus to show forth his power and authority as the Son of God. The man’s name was Legion which revealed that he was controlled by as many as two thousand demon spirits.
   Take notice that the demons spoke through the man and recognized immediately who Jesus was namely, “The Son of the Most High God!” They were also aware that he had the power and authority to send them to the bottomless pit, the place of eternal punishment, and begged him not to send them there. Instead, they pleaded for him to allow them to enter a herd of pigs. Giving them permission, the herd of pigs stampeded down a cliff and drowned in the sea.
   The question for us to consider is: Why did Jesus allow them to enter the herd of swine? What lessons was he trying to teach to the disciples and people in the area? Here are few suggestions:
First, if the herd of pigs belonged to the Jews, Jesus’ action would be a rebuke because they were forbidden from eating or keeping unclean animals such as swine (Leviticus 11:7).Second, if the herdsmen were Gentiles, Jesus’ action showed them the malice of the evil spirits under whose influence they lived. Third, Jesus’ action revealed, to the huge crowd that was assembled, his power and authority over creation and the demon world.
   The townspeople who came were awestruck, but unrepentant and wanted Jesus to leave which revealed the hardness of their hearts and desire to remain in sin. On the other hand, the healed man who was clothed and sane begged to follow Jesus. Instead, Jesus sent him back home to tell them the wonderful things that happened.

   Have you been changed? If so, are you telling others about the changes that have taken place in your life since Jesus saved you?