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Monday, January 28, 2008

That Offends Me

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:23-24)

In our "politically correct" society, we are expected to offend nobody, regardless of their views or sensibilities. And to the Christian, it is a good reminder, anyway, for we are instructed to "Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God." (1 Corinthians 10:32) Most believers understand that we are to live gentle unoffensive lives in this world, for that is pleasing to our God.

But this morning I came across Psalm 139 in my morning devotions, and was startled by those last two verses. I'm using the New Living Translation in my morning devotions currently, and in that translation verse 24 reads, "Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life."

Do you have the same concern against offending the Lord that you have against offending mere people in our society? The psalmist reminds us - let's do nothing today that would offend our wonderful Lord.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard... (Revelation 3:3)

He must have remembered them the rest of his life. He must have seen their faces in his dreams; heard their cries in the night. He had watched many of them tortured, beaten, raped, and killed. He had watched them wrenched from their homes and sold into horrible lives of slavery and despair.

And then Jesus found Him, and saved Him.

Years later he would write the most beloved hymn of all time - Amazing Grace.

Why could John Newton, a wicked man who had been so involved in the slave trade, write such a wonderful tribute to the grace of God? I believe it was because he never forgot from what God had saved him. He remembered his sin... his lostness... the depths into which God had reached. He knew he deserved none of it, and that made it all the more amazing.

If you are lost, and uncertain of heaven, know this - God can save anybody - even you.

If you are saved, do you remember?

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind, but now I see.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Never Lost

I pondered the direction of my life, and I turned to follow your statutes. (Psalm 119:59 NLT)

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. (Psalm 119:105)

I had an opportunity to use one of those new-fangled GPS personal navigation devices recently. They are for use in your car, when traveling. You input a destination and it directs you there using a map on its display screen, as well as spoken instructions. "Turn left... take the exit right, then take the motorway... right turn ahead... you have reached your destination." It's really fascinating technology that you should try the next time you travel.

I noticed one particularly wonderful aspect to the technology, though - you simply cannot get lost! If you deviate in any way from the instructions it is providing, it will recalculate the path to your destination. It will get you there, no matter how many wrong turns you take. You can just drive, and trust the GPS to help you make it home.

You have a GPS, you know, for the Christian life. It's called the Bible. Just like the modern tool, it will get you home, no matter how many wrong turns you might take along the way. It will never fail you, never lead you down a wrong path, and always always always point the way toward home.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Working at Prayer

But I give myself to prayer. (Psalm 109:4)

Charles Spurgeon wrote these words many years ago in his devotional "Morning and Evening":
Lying tongues were busy against the reputation of David, but he did not defend himself; he moved the case into a higher court and pleaded before the great King Himself. Prayer is the safest method of replying to words of hatred. The psalmist prayed in no coldhearted manner; he gave himself to the exercise—threw his whole soul and heart into it—straining every sinew and muscle, as Jacob did when wrestling with the angel.

A good reminder, that! When you need something from God, pray about it... not just a casual request, but pour yourself into it... give yourself to prayer. Work at it.

On another day, David would demonstrate his knowledge of the other side of the equation - when we pray, God hears and God answers. This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. (Psalm 34:6).

Do you need something from God? Pray about it. And when you've done that, pray some more.

Silent Vigil

I wait quietly before God, for my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken. (Psalm 62:1-2 NLT)

When things aren't going as smoothly as you'd like in your Christian life, how do you respond? When you need something from God, and have asked Him for it, and it seems He does not hear - how do you respond? When you see the injustices of the world on others, and realize you are helpless to do much about it, how do you respond? When frustration wells within you because of your own weakness and sinfulness, how do you respond?

David was a great king, but he was also a man. He struggled with the same issues you and I do everyday. And he learned the secret of patiently and quietly waiting on God for the solution. God alone was his protection, and God alone was the source of his salvation.

I encourage you to read Psalm 62 this morning. If you would like to see it in the New Living Translation, which is the one I quoted above, you can see that here.

May we all learn, like David, to wait quietly for God to work in our lives.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Woody Hayes would not be pleased!

You remember Woody, don't you? He was the revered coach of the Ohio State University football team, and he would not be happy with this weeks loss to LSU in the championship game. Woody was renowned for his coaching skills. He was also known for some of his quotes. For instance, he once said, "Paralyze resistance with persistence." That's pretty good.

Nehemiah was another great leader. You can read about him in the book named for him in your Old Testament. He led the people of God in a difficult time, and stood firm even when surrounded by enemies.

In one particular instance, he was advised to flee into the temple to avoid being killed by the enemies of God. His response showed true faith and rock-like leadership:

"Should a man like me run away? Or should one like me go into the temple to save his life? I will not go!" (Nehemiah 6:11)

  • The next time the troubles of life crowd in on you, and you feel like fleeing - remember Nehemiah.
  • The next time the world feels like it's going to crush the life out of you - remember Nehemiah.
  • The next time you face disappointment or despair in your Christian walk - remember Nehemiah.
He knew what we all must learn - a key to success in serving God is longevity - never giving up - never surrendering. Paul said it like this, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." (Galatians 6:9)

In other words, "Paralyze resistance with persistence."

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Where's Chloe?

Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty; open thine eyes, and thou shalt be satisfied with bread. (Proverbs 20:13)

The morning routine was messed up today. Usually Chloe (my Bassett Hound) follows me down the steps and excitedly waits to go outside while I quickly get the morning coffee brewing. After she returns to the house, she eats her breakfast, and then returns to her bed upstairs while I enjoy my Bible reading time.

I was well into that Bible reading time this morning when I realized she had never followed me down the steps. Cogitating on this a while, I reflected on the fact that this was becoming more common as she ages. She doesn't want to get out of that bed. I had a good friend once who had a similar problem. He was southern, with a slow drawl in his speech. I asked him once why he had not made it to a particularly important event, and he drawled, "Ah love ma bay-id."

Chloe does, too.

I do, too.

But the work of God is important, and so we need to get out of that bay-id and work while He lets us do it. Let's get the sleep we need, but let's never let sleep become an excuse for ignoring the things of God.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The Candle is Burning Low

Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh. (Matthew 25:13)

A good friend told this story, which serves as a powerful reminder that we need to be busy for God during 2008, for we don't know how much time is left before the Lord returns!
During a period of rainy weather, a London city missionary became discouraged through inclemency of the weather and the hardheartedness of the people. One evening he wandered through his district in a very despondent mood, and stepped into a hallway to rest and gain shelter from the rain. Through an open doorway he saw a seamstress at her work by candlelight. So busily was she working that he had trouble following the fast flying needle with his eye. She stopped a moment to rest, but then, casting a look at her candle, she murmured, "I must hasten, for my candle is burning low, and I have no other," and busily applied herself to her work. The missionary said: "These words entered my heart as a warning from above. In a moment my despondence was gone, and I said, 'I too, must hasten and work while it is day; the night comes apace when no man can work.' "

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Praise God For Another New Year

What a blessing to see another year! What an adrenalin rush to anticipate His plans for the next 365 days! What a sobering process to contemplate how He has worked in our lives during the previous 365 days.

God is good. And we thank Him for His blessings.

As you start out 2008, may I suggest a resolution to include on your list? May I challenge you to try and read through the New Testament in 2008? The whole Bible would be even better, but let's start with something that is readily accomplished. Consider some math:

The New Testament contains 260 chapters. Therefore, reading at the rate of one chapter a day will take 260 days to complete the entire NT (105 days less than one year).

At that rate, you could miss a day here and there, and still complete your goal of reading through the whole New Testament by the end of the year. One chapter a day will take most readers less than 10 minutes each day.

Let's do it! Let's make 2008 the year of the Bible in our lives. Let's commit to reading it daily, and watch in awe as we see how God uses it to make us more like our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.