Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Putting false idols before God

Good morning. Today’s scripture comes from Psalm 115:3-9 (NIV):

“Our God is in heaven;
he does whatever pleases him.
But their idols are silver and gold,
made by the hands of men.
They have mouths, but cannot speak,
eyes, but they cannot see;
they have ears, but cannot hear,
noses, but they cannot smell;
they have hands, but cannot feel,
feet, but they cannot walk;
nor can they utter a sound with their throats.
Those who make them will be like them,
and so will all who trust in them.
O house of Israel , trust in the Lord –
he is their help and shield.”

In the 2000 movie “Gladiator,” Russell Crowe’s character Maximus carries around with him little statuettes in a leather pouch as a reminder of his gods. At the time, the Roman Empire was winding down to its last 200 years (the movie setting is about 180 AD, when Marcus Aurelius dies.). The Psalms were written several hundred years before, but the character of people were similar. People—even the Israelites—worshipped idols of wood, stone, or metal. When Maximus lost his idols, he, too, was lost.

In Psalm 115, the idols were made of silver and gold. Sort of like today with money and “things.” Today, people may not carry around little statuettes in their pockets as their reminders, but they worship “things” and not the true God in heaven. The psalmist wanted the Israelites to realize that anything made of man’s hands were not worthy of worship. Instead, we should trust the Lord, because he is our “help and shield,” or protector.

So what are our idols? What is it we place before the God in heaven? What is keeping us from putting God first in our lives. The psalmist is telling us that those things made of wood, stone, or metal can’t speak to us, hear us, feel what we’re going through, or walk with us. And God is in heaven, doing as “he pleases.” What pleases him is hearing from us. Our God has ears to hear, and his commands to us are written down in his word, the Bible. When we open it up and read about his love and grace, it pleases him. We gain wisdom whenever we connect with God.

The false idols we put before God will never fill the emptiness we feel in our guts. That emptiness can only be filled by God’s truth and mercy. We want money to fulfill us, but it fails. We want that big house to meet our needs, but it doesn’t. We want that prestigious position at work to fill us up, but it leaves us empty. We want the love of another person to make us happy, but human love is never enough. We are here on earth to seek God and please him. When we obey his commands, God sends us blessings we cannot fathom. Our reverence for the Lord is what meets all our needs and fills us up, be they physical, emotional or spiritual. Earthly idols cannot compare.

How does this apply to my life?

Today’s prayer: Lord, help me to put aside all my earthly idols and put you first. Help me to seek out the blessings you have set aside for me. Amen

Friday, October 09, 2009

Holy, not happy

Good morning. Today’s scripture comes from Psalm 112:1 (NIV):

“Praise the Lord.

Blessed is the man who fears the Lord,

Who finds great delight in his commands.”

Psalms 111-118 are considered the “hallelujah” or “praise the Lord” songs. These are meant to be uplifting and optimistic for the future. At the time they were written, they were meant for the future return of the Jews from captivity in Babylon. The redemption offered here means the recovery of something or someone for a payment or ransom. At the time, the Jews were in slavery, but Jesus gave his life as a perfect sacrifice, thus allowing all people to come into the presence of God. Previously, only Jews could be in God’s presence in the Most Holy Place.

Whoever you are and wherever you are, you can come to the throne of God whenever you need. God is a constant presence in our lives through the Holy Spirit. This is a great message for single adults who are struggling to find their way. Some people might call their previous marriage slavery. Some might call their current singleness a form of slavery. Still others who have remarried might feel a slave with little happiness. You might feel like a slave to debt or to your office. And then there are addictions.

OK, you’re saying, where does this “hallelujah” part come in? This all sounds rather unhappy. My wife and I are taking a marriage class right now called “Sacred Marriage,” by Gary Thomas. The subtitle of chapter 1 reads “A Call to Holiness More Than Happiness.” You may be saying, “But I want to be happy!” That’s my point. What Thomas means is that God wants us to seek holiness first, not happiness. Too many people think too often that life is about being happy all the time. Yet, the psalmists looked at suffering as a part of life.

What we need to realize is that we can be happy during troubling times. We become happy in all things by turning to the Lord in all things—and not just amid struggles. This psalmist says that we will be blessed when we fear the Lord, or “revere” him. When we delight in his commands, it means we want to be obedient. The key to being happy is to be holy first. We do that by walking with the Lord in a personal relationship every day. When we become holy, we become better people, whether we’re single, separated or married. That holiness factor makes us more loving and lovable, a trait that God wants us all to have. That’s how you become holy in all things.

How does this apply to my life?

Today’s prayer: Lord, make me holy, like your son, Jesus. Help me to seek the things of your kingdom today. Amen

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

A history worth reading

Good morning. Today’s scripture comes from Psalm 111:2 (but please read the entire Psalm) (NIV):

“Great are the works of the Lord;
They are pondered by all who delight in them.”

As part of my online degree studies, I’m taking a History of Western Civilization class. I find history fascinating and I love reading about the different cultures of the world. When I looked into seminary a few years back, I was most interested in studying the history of my faith. Those stories tell us who we are and where we come from. I’m only halfway through the class, and so far we’ve studied the Hebrews, the Greeks, and the Romans.

The history of the Hebrews shows that they are the only civilization that left information behind in order to understand him better and to live a better life. The Psalms consist of writings from man talking back to God in an ongoing conversation. Mostly, we hear from David, pleading for help with his enemies, later praising God for his wondrous works, and, finally, he is confident that God will act righteously – again. We read these stories in order to increase our faith that God is working behind the scenes on our behalf. It’s a story of redemption.

The Greeks’ history tells us how they started the democratic process, but the famous Greek philosophers eventually came to the conclusion that the gods lived on the mountaintops and didn’t interfere with our lives here on earth. The Romans believed in self-determination in conquering the known world, and they let people retain their religious beliefs, for the most part, as long as they worshipped Caesar first. The rest of our world history is about man, not God.

Yet, the Bible shares a constant story of a God wanting to be first in our lives but isn’t demanding. He wants our love in return, certainly, but he gives us freewill to choose or deny him. God constantly interacts with his people in order to show his love for us. He wants us to know him, so he shares his story with us in a period covering some 6,000 years, from the time of Adam in Genesis to John’s writing of Revelation in about AD 95. Even though mankind does not deserve God’s grace, he continues to reach out to us in ways we can’t fathom. Just when we think all is lost, and we have no way out, God restores us. Open the Bible today and find out more about who God is.

How does this apply to my life?

Today’s prayer: Lord, you are truly an amazing God. You reach out to us, your people, every day of our lives. Even though we don’t deserve it, you give us unconditional love by wanting to be a part of our lives. Even in the most minute details, you care about us. Amen

Monday, October 05, 2009

God helps us find the truth

Good morning. Today’s scripture comes from Psalm 109:1-2 (NIV):

O God, whom I praise,
do not remain silent,
for wicked and deceitful men
have opened their mouths against me;
they have spoken against me with lying tongues.

Sometimes kids lie. No, really, they do. They lie to each other, they lie to themselves, they lie to anyone who stands in front of them. They even lie, gasp, to their parents. This may come as a total shock to a parent whose child hasn’t yet reached adolescence. As a teacher, I was utterly amazed when some kids would lie to my face after being caught breaking a rule, and continue to deny it even when presented with evidence. The plan seemed to be deny, deny, deny … and then, blame it on someone else when that failed!

In other words, they’re shirking responsibility for their actions. OK, confession time: I lied to my parents, too. This isn’t a new trend in the 2000s. Kids have been lying since before David’s days. Yes, people lied to David, too, and he was king! He cried out to God about how mad it made him. Then he asked God to speak up about the liars who were ruining his good name.

This is what my wife and I have been confronted with for the past few months. We learned a couple of valuable lessons we want to pass on to others. One, when we were suspicious, we asked God to reveal the sin to us. God was not silent. Two, when presented with the evidence, graciously confront the sin. Ask open-ended questions that gives the kid a chance to confess; don’t just make accusations. Third, there must be consequences to sin. God disciplines his children because he loves us and doesn’t want to see us in pain down the road, and parents must model that with their kids. And, finally, love must be a constant

Imagine if there were no consequences to our sins. What if we placed a finger over a hot flame but didn’t feel anything – and the next day our finger would fall off. We need pain and consequences in order to teach us not to repeat painful mistakes. How do teenagers learn if there are no consequences? Without consequences, kids would continue down the path to destruction. When kids get on the wrong path, we, as parents, must do whatever it takes to get them back on a godly path. We can count on God being on our side when it comes to lying and deceit. He will not remain silent.

How does this apply to my life?

Today’s prayer: Lord, we praise you for being a God who loves us so much you confront us daily with our sins. Your goal is always to have a relationship with us, and you know this is the only way. Amen

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Deliver us, Lord

Good morning. Today’s scripture comes from Psalm 109:21 (NIV):

“But you, O Sovereign Lord,
deal well with me for your name’s sake;
out of the goodness of your love, deliver me."

Many of David’s enemies were foreigners – from the dreaded Philistines, to the Edmonites, to the Moabites – but they were also those close to him, King Saul, and even David’s son Absolom, as well as Sheba, who lived near David’s palace in Jerusalem. To David, it didn’t matter who was attacking him; he cried out to God for his infinite mercy and love, all the same. David was ready to pull out his sword and do battle, but in the end, he counted on God’s deliverance. We must be ready to do the same.

As a parent, our children’s enemies may not be from foreign countries, and they certainly won’t walk into our house with a sword at their side. Today, it’s a lot harder to know who our enemies are. David knew he had to flee when Saul flung a sword by his head as he played the soothing harp. Make no mistake, our children have enemies just the same. They are enemies any time Satan uses them to lure our children from the safe, godly path we have shown them over the years. Most of David’s problems with Absolom stemmed from David’s refusal to confront his son’s rape of his sister.

My wife and I have been dealing with some “enemies” for the past few months. Sometimes, his enemies are his best friends; he just doesn’t realize it. It is our job as parents to protect him from the enemy, even if it’s just for one day. As my wife and I have done battle for her son, I sometimes have to remind my wife that it’s OK to do battle over her son’s spirit. It’s OK to say no to certain friendships – even best friends – if that friend is doing something wrong. The enemy is relentless, and we must respond in kind. Tomorrow, it is God’s ideal for that friendship to be reconciled to Him. To reconcile the friendship, sin must be confronted.

Our kids are worth battling over, and if we check out your kid’s MySpace or Facebook account and see a red flag, we better be ready to do battle and find out what’s up. This is not the time to walk away when we see sin in our teenager’s life. The Bible tells us to lovingly confront sin when we see it. Do not believe the enemy’s contemporary arguments that we must accept everyone for being diverse. The battle lines have been drawn – by the enemy, I might add – and we’re fighting for education, drugs and alcohol, sex, lewdness, politeness, respect, and even joy (the opposite of depression). Confronting sin is not easy; it takes guts to pull our kids out of harm’s way. It may mean alienation from their friends, but our kids are worth fighting for. We’re fighting for their futures – futures with hope and love.

Need help with a tough parenting issue? Try reading “Parenting Isn’t for Cowards” by Dr. James Dobson.

Today’s prayer: Lord, give us strength to fight the battles that need to be fought. Give us rest when we are weary, so that we may awaken tomorrow, ready to do battle again. Amen

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Fathoming the mysteries of God

Good morning. Today’s scripture comes from Psalm Job:11:7-9 (NIV):

“Can you fathom the mysteries of God?
Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?
They are higher than the heavens – what can you do?
They are deeper than the depths of the grave –
what can you know?
Their measure is longer than the earth
and wider than the sea.”

I have not written this devotional in a couple of weeks. My reasons are many – from being exhausted in dealing with my step-son, to work-related matters, to being brain dead. Oh, yeah, and I went to Hawaii for five days with three buddies and soaked up the sun and beach a little. That wore me out! When I got home, I needed a day of rest to recuperate.

This scripture came from Sunday’s sermon at church. The sermon was one my step-son, my wife and I needed to hear, because no matter what we’re going through, we can never truly understand “the mysteries of God.” When we give up and think God has limits and isn’t capable – or willing – of getting us out of our current scrape, he steps up to the plate in the 11th hour and delivers a home run. That’s what God has been doing for us during the past few months, over and over and over. God has given us grace beyond what we deserve.

For one reason: He loves us. Because he loves us, he knows exactly how must grace and truth to give us at any one time. He wants us to learn from our mistakes, so he doesn’t wipe away the consequences most of the time. And just when we think we can’t take it any more, he heaps on a pile of grace to get us through another ordeal. Some of you with rebellious teenagers know what I’m talking about and may be laughing – or snickering – under your breath. “Yep. Been there, done that.” Others are hoping they never have to face such difficult situations when your young children come of age.

My faith in the almighty God has deepened greatly during this difficult battle. Time and again, I have seen God answer our prayers. I can see his hand in everything we do. Even in a quick trip to Yosemite, we marveled at God’s creation and realized he created it the snap of his fingers so that we could witness his beauty. My wife and I have learned to turn the problems with her son over to God, then wait for him to act. When things look bleak, I’ve simply grabbed my wife’s hand and said, “I don’t know what to do, so we’re going to pray and trust God.”

In that waiting comes new-found trust and growth. God is slowly stretching our faith, getting ever closer to the level we need to reach, yet never quite getting there. Our journey continues. We hope you join us. It’s a grand experience.

How does this apply to my life?

Today’s prayer: Lord, I can’t do this without you. I need you. Give me strength to face life today. Amen

Monday, August 31, 2009

Descriptions of God

Good morning. Today’s scripture comes from Psalm 104:30 (NIV):

“When you send your Spirit,

they are created,

and you renew the face of the earth.”

The Psalms give several descriptions of God, which I’ll get to in a moment. Here, He is called a spirit (with a capital S, signifying His deity) that renews or changes us. Great things can happen to us when we are filled with the Spirit. In Acts 9:17, Saul is filled with the Holy Spirit after his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. Saul was on his way to Damascus to arrest new believers to the Way, but he, too, became a follower after the scales were removed from his eyes so he could see the truth. That’s what the Spirit does to us.

With each new situation in the Psalms, the writers gave different descriptions of God, revealing his character. Elsewhere in chapter 104, God is called creator (vs. 5). These various characteristics are what the Psalmists experienced first-hand so that we would know God better. As we read the Psalms, we should ask ourselves what God is revealing about himself that we need to understand.

Here’s a few of those characteristics listed in the Psalms: All-knowing and ever-present (Psalm 139); beautiful and desirable (27, 36, 45); creator (8, 104, 148); good and generous (34, 81, 107); great and sovereign (33, 89, 96); holy (66, 99, 145); loving and faithful (23, 42, 51); merciful and forgiving (32, 111, 130); powerful (76, 89, 93); willing to reveal his will, law and direction (1, 19, 119); righteous and just (71, 97, 113); and Spirit (104, 139, 143). Psalm 103:8 says He is slow to anger, giving us a chance to seek his compassion and grace before it is too late. He gives us chances we don’t deserve because He loves us.

God reveals His character to us, because he wants to be known, and His word tells us what we need to know about him. Because He is described as good, He cannot also be evil. Because He is just, He cannot also be unjust. Because He is merciful, He cannot be unmerciful. Because He is all-knowing, ever-present and all-powerful, He cannot be limited in scope. The various descriptions of God tell us how He acts in different situations we face. We can count on those characteristics being revealed, because God is also the truth (25:5) and His Word cannot lie to us.

How does this apply to my life?

Today’s prayer: Lord, reveal to me who you are today. I pray that throughout my day, I keep my eyes open to who you are. Amen

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

God discards hard hearts

Good morning. Today’s scripture comes from Psalm 95:11 (NIV):

“So I declared an oath in my anger,

‘They shall never enter my rest.’”

God’s ultimate blessing is our eternal “rest” with him, here on earth now and later in heaven. So how do we tick off God so that we never enter our “rest.” Psalm 95 gives us an indication of the kind of things that anger God.

1) Ungrateful hearts (Psalm 95.2); 2) not worshipping or humbling ourselves before him (95:6); 3) hardening our hearts (95:8); and 4) testing God because of our stubborn doubts (95:9). The Israelites had hard hearts in the desert by constantly resisting God’s will (Exodus 17:7) after leaving Egypt. Hebrews 4:5-11 warns us not to harden our hearts and to reject worldly things that keep us from God.

No one wants to admit when their hearts have hardened. My step-son just went through a hard-heart period, and we prayed that God would soften his heart. God is working on him as we speak, and we’ve seen a big change in him. But I’ve had a hard heart toward God over the years, too. It’s easy get angry at God when things aren’t going our way. We want to blame God instead of taking responsibility for our sin, our mistakes, or our poor choices. I have to make a daily effort to love God and not be angry with him.

Hard hearts are like a lump of clay that has hardened. It’s useless and can no longer be molded into any shape. Hard hearts come from stubbornness; we don’t want to change our ways. Hard hearts don’t just happen overnight; it is a series of poor choices. Resist God long enough, and he’ll discard you like a hard, lump of clay. Yet God can change our hearts, so that he can use us. We must let go of our desires and seek God’s will. That means first humbling ourselves, worshipping him and having a grateful heart. It starts for being thankful for what we have and not being angry for what we don’t have.

How does this apply to my life?

Today’s prayer: Lord, help me to be thankful for what you’ve given me. Help me to look at my life as a blessing from you, and not what I think I should have gotten. Amen

Monday, August 24, 2009

You can make a difference in the world

Good morning. Today’s scripture comes from Psalm 94:16 (NIV):

“Who will rise up for me against the wicked?
Who will take a stand for me against evildoers.”

Don’t let silly politicians fool you: There is much evil in the world. Today, for instance, there is more slavery in the world than in any other time in history. There are more poor and starving children in the world than in any other time in history, often because of oppression and political corruption. America is feeling the effects of the current recession, but it’s nothing compared to those who live on a dollar a day in Africa, India or South America. In Haiti, people are selling mud patties to fill their empty stomachs. They add butter to make them palatable.

I am reading “The Hole in Our Gospel,” by World Vision president Richard Stearns, who spoke at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit earlier this month. I am convicted for what the church is not doing to help the poor and the starving. I go to the church I do because we support such ministries as World Vision and International Justice Ministries, both of which go out into the poor countries of the world and try to make a dent in the world’s poverty. My wife and I support two children financially.

At the Summit, Jessica Jackley, the founder of Kiva.org, was interviewed by Willow Creek pastor Bill Hybels, about the group’s concepts. Kiva is a microfinance bank that offers loans from people such as you and me to impoverished entrepreneurs who have an idea to start a business but no capital. For as little as $25, you can help a single mom in Africa buy a few chickens that will lay eggs to be sold in the market so she can feed her kids. These people don’t need a handout, they need a hand up.

I was recently unemployed for six weeks, but we had saved money for such an emergency. I never missed a meal during that time. Our mortgage was never late. The worst complaint I have is that our air conditioner is busted, and on hot days it can get uncomfortable working in the house. I daily drink bottled water that is clean. Compared with 90 percent of the world, I have it made. I have a roof over my head to protect me from the elements. I have clothes to wear, and food to fill my tummy. No one in my family is going without. But I can’t help thinking about the impoverished single mom in Africa whose husband just died of AIDS, and she can’t make a living to feed her starving children.

It’s a small thing, but you can make a difference in one person’s life. I urge you to check into these three organizations listed below and to support them in any way you can. Giving up a latte a week means $20 a month toward feeding someone. It’s time to stop sitting on our lazy butts and making excuses. You can make a difference—even if it’s in the life of one child in the world.

International Justice Ministry: www.ijm.org

Kiva: www.kiva.org

World Vision: www.worldvision.org

How can I help one person in this world?

Today’s prayer: Lord, help me not to forget about the poor and the starving in the world. Amen

Friday, August 21, 2009

One awesome resume

Good morning. Today’s scripture comes from Psalm 93:1-2 (NIV):

“The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty;
the Lord is robed in majesty
and is armed with strength.
The world is firmly established;
it cannot be moved.
Your throne was established long ago;
you are from all eternity.”

In today’s job market, the basic requirement is to have an electronic resume and letter. Then, too, you might have a personal Web site, a LinkedIn profile, as well as a social marketing gimmick such as a Facebook profile. All those things let the world know who you are and what you can do for a potential employer.

If God were to write a resume, what do you think he would put on it? Just in the past few days, we’ve included two character traits that surely would be included: He loves us, and he is righteous. What about that creation thing; do you think that would be a resume builder. Just how would he word that? Would someone think he was being pompous by stating he had created the world, universe and heavens in six days way back when? “Did you get a bonus for that job?”

The Bible tells us who God is in every book. He is not some fly-by-night god (note the lower-case g) who needs to come up with flowery characterizations of himself just to pump himself up for mankind. This short psalm gives us a window of who God is. “He is robed in majesty.” He “is armed with strength.” The “world is firmly established” and “it cannot be moved.” His “throne was established long ago,” and, finally,” he is “from all eternity.” Powerful stuff, our God. Nothing else can match his accomplishments.

And yet the world keeps finding things in God’s creation to worship and take the place of the creator. Go figure. We hug trees and rocks, but don’t want a hug from God. We cherish the life of an animal, but not the fetus inside a woman’s womb. We make false idols out of work, money, play, and lust after the things of this world. We want credit for everything good that happens in our lives, and blame God when things go bad. We worship at the foot of “me” every day. God hasn’t changed in thousands of years; if anything changes it’s us. We can look at the world around us and know that God cares for us, because he put so much thought into his creation. Each of us is special because God created us in his image—not in the image of a rock, a tree or an animal. Our God has a resume filled with awesome accomplishments. All that remains is for you to hire him, and make him No. 1 in your company.

How does this apply to my life?

Today’s prayer: Lord, help me to always worship you, the creator of the heavens and the universe and everything in them. Thank you for the beauty around me. I marvel at your workmanship. Amen

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Be a sturdy tree

Good morning. Today’s scripture comes from Psalm 92:12-15 (NIV):

“The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,

they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;

planted in the house of the Lord,

they will flourish in the courts of our God.

They will still bear fruit in old age,

they will stay fresh and green,

proclaiming, ‘The Lord is upright;

he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.’”

Gone are the days when men are honored with a gold pocket watch for working for the same company for 40. Few couples will reach their golden anniversary because of the prevalence of divorce in our society. People no longer watch their children and grandchildren grow up in the same house. Gone are the days when elders in the church are the grey-haireds who stuck around through thick and thin. Now our health care system is even talking about wiping out the elderly who cost too much to maintain.

But in God’s house, the righteous are still honored for long life and service to the church and the kingdom. And that’s the way it should be. When my dad died 3 ½ years ago, he was honored for being a righteous man in all areas of his life—his family, his work, his friends, and serving his church. That’s how I want to finish. Even though I’m only in my second year of marriage, someday I want people to look at my remarriage as a blessing to others. I want to be a part of my grandchildren’s lives (just not yet). I want to be known for selflessly serving my fellow man. That takes dedication and commitment.

In this psalm, palm trees and cedars of Lebanon are symbolism for long and sturdy life. Cedars of Lebanon grew to 120 feet high and 30 feet in circumference. Old trees have roots that go down deep; they aren’t shallow. Old trees are solid and immovable, and that’s what God wants us to be. The key is living a righteous life before God. If we look good on the outside to the world, but our insides disgust God, we are not genuine in our character. We can’t have integrity without authenticity. That’s what being righteous means.

Life is a journey. We don’t reach our destination until we die. We don’t suddenly reach an earthly milestone and quit serving others and the Lord because we’re tired. Serving God energizes us, so if we do it right, we should be serving mankind even after retirement from our careers. We may slow down, but we never stop serving. If you’re single, there’s nothing wrong with being single for 15 years. If you’re unemployed, you can survive a year or two without work. The question is, how are you acting under the pressure? Do you spend all your time feeling sorry for yourself or are you serving others? No matter what your circumstances, you can find ways to bide your time in a meaningful way? That’s what God expects from us.

How does this apply to my life?

Today’s prayer: Lord, help me to live my life in a way that’s meaningful to you. Help me to always make time for you and my brothers and sisters in Christ. Amen

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Loving God first

Good morning. Today’s scripture comes from Psalms 91:14-16 (NIV):

“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call upon me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life will I satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”

Following Jesus Christ does not mean you get a free pass from danger. On the contrary, life is filled with danger, and there seems to be no way to avoid it—and no denial doesn’t really work. What God promises is that He will be there during times of trouble, and He offers His help. Contrast that with the world’s thinking: You must be strong to survive. “Everything’s riding on your shoulders, buddy. If you can’t cut it, you’re a failure—or worse—a loser! Now go get ‘em!” Very comforting.

I don’t know about you, but I just don’t have that kind of strength. Sometimes, I want to think I do, but then, when I get through a trying week like I just did, I realize how much I need God’s strength in my life. Whenever I go through struggles, like divorce, my dad dying from lung cancer, unemployment, issues with my sons, relational issues—I always say the same thing: I don’t know how people deal with life without Christ in their lives. Those difficult times are reminders of our need for God, just as they were thousands of years ago in the time of Moses (author of Psalm 90).

Psalm 90 through 106 is a bundle of Psalms with a common theme—our submission before the almighty God. One of the key phrases in the first two Psalms is God’s love for us, but in 91, God is looking for reciprocation of that love. God is pleased with the anonymous author’s love and is rewarding him with a blessed life. In the end, he receives God’s salvation in return for loving the Lord.

That’s all God wants from us: to put Him No. 1 in our lives—not No. 2 behind work, money, toys, or any other worldly pleasures. He doesn’t want anything to come between us and our love for him. Putting God first in our lives doesn’t mean we will have a life without pain; it simply means that we won’t be alone in those trials. Not only will we have God in our life for guidance, we will have fellow Christians to walk with us through those valley times. My brothers and sisters are what got me through times such as last week in dealing with my step-son’s schooling issue. When that week was over, all I could think of was thanking God for his love and his goodness.

How does this apply to my life?

Today’s prayer: Lord, thank you for your love and your goodness. Thank you for giving me patience and endurance. Amen

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Reaching out to the rejected

Good morning. Today’s scripture comes from Psalm 88:13-14 (NIV):

“But I cry to you for help, O Lord;

in the morning my prayer comes before you.

Why, O Lord, do you reject me

and hide your face from me.”

In life, there is much difficulty. Sometimes, it seems, there is no relief in sight. All hope is lost. Does God even hear our prayers at such times? Life is miserable, and we don’t know where to turn. We cry out to God, but we aren’t even certain he’s listening. Yet, even in our deepest misery, God understands; he does not reject us forever.

Psalm 88 is one of the few psalms that do not have a conclusion of answered prayer. The psalm does not end with praise of how God worked in Heman’s (a son of Korah and a musician) plight. Even though Heman’s soul “is full of trouble,” (vs. 3a), he does not stop crying out. Even though he appears to be near death (“as my life draws near the grave”, vs. 3b), he doesn’t stop praying.

Because of Heman’s illness, his friends have deserted him. This is one of the darkest psalms out of the 150 listed in the Bible. Life does not appear to get better for Heman. So what is the message if there is no hope for someone in such despair? Perhaps the message isn’t for the afflicted, but for the friends of Heman. God tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:39). How do we do that in such a situation as this? Or do we avoid the situation, as the priest and the Levite did in the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:27-37).

We can always pray for that person. Pray for a miracle. Pray for strength. Pray for endurance. Pray for their financial needs to be met. Pray that friends don’t desert the person, because despair robs us of dignity and emotional strength. Despair leads to depression. Depression leads to solitude. All those things wrapped into one leads to hopelessness. Hopelessness leads to the end. We need to be friends to such people. We were created to love and be in fellowship, and when we are lacking those two essential elements in life, misery can fill our lives. When Jesus told us to love our neighbors, he wasn’t talking about the millionaire down the road who has everything; he was talking about the person who has nothing. When we love our neighbors today, that has a way of coming around to us tomorrow when we are down and out.

How does this apply to my life?

Today’s prayer: Lord, help me to lift up my friends in prayer, and help me to be a better friend through their troubles and struggles. Amen

Monday, August 17, 2009

Dwelling in God’s place

Good morning. Today’s scripture comes from Psalm 84:1-2 (NIV):

“How lovely is your dwelling place,
O Lord Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.

Last week’s events left me utterly exhausted. All week long, my wife and I were dealing with her son’s schooling issue. We watched God do his best work up close and personal. The biggest miracle we witnessed was watching the transformation of a once stubborn teenager who returned to his old chipper self, once we laid the law down. . On Friday morning, he got up and went to school the same way he did every day last year. He didn’t ditch and curse us. Friday after school, I met him at on his walk home from the bus and bought him a Jamba Juice, and we talked about school. Life is peachy keen.

But that was just the beginning. I had two finals in my online college courses due on Friday, including a 10-page paper that I didn’t start until Friday morning at 8:30. I turned the paper in at 4 and finished the second project at 7. Then, on Saturday, I worked 15 hours on a catering job. You can imagine how I feel right now. I took a 90-minute nap yesterday, which rarely happens. After not sleeping well all last week, I am suddenly sleeping through the night.

After a few hours sleep Saturday night, I couldn’t wait to get up and go to church on Sunday. I wouldn’t miss a chance to worship in the house of my God. After all we had been through, I needed worship him. I needed to rest in God’s jumbo-sized arms and cry out my thanks to him. We had put some serious requests before the Lord and waited patiently while he worked through the 11th hour on our behalf. Just a few weeks before, he had answered my prayer about a job. This prayer answer to my step-son’s schooling was huge to us, because we felt this was a crucial time in his life.

You better believe I look at God differently than I did a month ago, when I was unemployed and my step-son was trying to get his way by demanding, lying and manipulating. During that time, my prayer life has changed dramatically. Instead of glancing through my prayers, I spend 10 or 15 minutes going through a long list. My needs are suddenly miniscule when I look at my friends’ needs for jobs and marital guidance. If God worked miracles, he surely can work miracles in my friends’ lives. I want them to prosper just as I am right now. The place I am dwelling now is indeed lovely. I think I’ll stay here awhile.

How does this apply to my life?

Today’s prayer: Lord, I am exhausted. I just want to rest in your dwelling place for a while until my strength is restored. Amen

Friday, August 14, 2009

Happy dance time!

Good morning. Today’s scripture comes from Psalm 81:1 (NIV):

“Sing for joy to God our strength;

shout aloud to the God of Jacob!”

Today is a holiday for my wife and me. Silently, we will be singing for joy and shouting aloud. We have agreed not to do the happy dance while my step-son is around. He isn’t quite ready to sing and do the happy dance, but he’s coming around. The reason for our joy is that we witnessed God’s miracle in the 11th hour as He changed the hearts of my step-son and his dad. In short, my step-son will be going to the same Christian high school he attended last year, and not the public high school four blocks away, which was his desire.

We are joyful, because we had inwardly resigned to his attending the public school when it looked as though all hope were lost. We even started looking into getting involved in a few faith-based programs at the school. Our prayers changed to “Lord, if this is your will, then show us where you want us to serve.” My wife was looking into Mom’s in Touch, a group that prays for the students, campus and faculty at schools, and I was praying for new ministry direction, perhaps on campus. I had even tried to meet with the principal of the Christian school in order to give back the generous scholarship the school had given us, but was thwarted by a phone calls that caused me to miss him. When I arrived at the school, the principal had just left. School started there on Wednesday.

Then something happened. The door that had seemed shut, suddenly opened a crack. “Hmm,” I thought to myself, “very interesting.” What might God be doing here? I grabbed my wife’s hand on Monday morning and said, “This isn’t right. We prayed for God’s peace in your son going to public school, and it isn’t happening. We’re not giving up. We’re going to pray some more. And we did – fervently. I was on my knees every morning, and my wife fasted for one meal a day all week.

What God did next blew us away. He opened new doors of communication with the dad. It seemed our “opponent” had switched jerseys at halftime. God shined a light on the truth. Their son had pitted them against each other to get his way. His reasons for wanting to switch schools became suspect; something was not sitting right with any of us. But the grace of God brought his parents together to decide what was best for him and tore down the walls of division. Before we met with him and his dad, we had prayed all day, and sent an email to over 200 people asking them to pray with us. We were deeply touched when about 20 people responded immediately that they were praying right then and there.

The last miracle was the change of heart in my step-son. He had threatened to ditch if we forced him to go to the Christian school, but last night, he was happily texting his friends and letting them know he would be there today. Through this whole ordeal, the school remained a staunch supporter of my step-son. Two of the secretaries were praying for us the past two days. This is where God wanted my step-son to be. It was an easy decision for us, because we knew he was loved and accepted there. Oh, and God answered a bazillion prayers on our behalf. Thank you all for being our friends and prayer warriors. We felt your prayers. Someday, we’ll let my step-son know that more than 200 people were praying for him. You may now move about the cabin and join us in the happy dance.

How does this apply to my life?

Today’s prayer: Lord, you are awesome. You do your best work in the 11th hour. No one else gets the glory but you. Your sovereignty and love are simply amazing. Amen

Monday, August 10, 2009

Heal our nation? Look inwardly first

Good morning. Today’s scripture comes from Psalm 79:5 (NIV):

“How long, O Lord? Will you be angry forever?
How long will your jealousy burn like fire?
Pour out your wrath on the nations
that do not acknowledge you,
on the kingdoms
that do not call on your name.”

Uh, that would be us, the United States of America, founded on Christian principles way back in 1776. For 200-plus years we were known as a Christian nation, led by Christian leaders. Today? I don’t know. I am scared for our country. I’m frightened that Christians are being threatened with silence, from the airwaves, to schools, to the workplace. Our government is headed toward socialism, forcing a free medical health care plan – even for illegal immigrants – on us that would include provisions for free teenage abortions. Oh, and if your mom is in her 80s, the government has a right to intervene and take over her life, including determining when she dies.

When you look across our nation, it is not acting much like a Christian nation. You might be saying, “That’s all well and good, but I’m just a pour, private citizen. What can I do?” Simple. Pray, just as Asaph is doing here probably shortly after the Babylonian invasion had leveled Jerusalem (see 2 Kings 25). Suddenly the landscape of Jerusalem had changed. God-fearing Jews were being sent off to foreign lands, and the mighty Babylonians were in charge.

Asaph (or one of his descendants) was outraged at the injustice he saw all around him, so he cries out TO God, not AGAINST him. There’s a difference. Asaph is angry at the situation, but he isn’t angry at God. During times of disaster, we must trust God to deliver us from tough times. Are we facing tough times in America? You bet. But most of our public ills were brought on by our greed for more of everything. More money, more toys, better-paying job, bigger house, bigger cars, more fun, more merriment. Oh, and more sex and pornography, meaning more abortions and more divorces. The toys were put on credit, meaning more debt. More time in the office to pay the creditors, and less time in the home, which means letting liberal teachers to raise our children.

Like Asaph, we must realize why the calamity around us is happening: It’s our sins. God was so thoroughly disgusted with the Israelites worship of false idols that he let the Babylonians conquer Jerusalem and the scattering of Jews began in earnest. In verse 9, he asks God to “forgive our sins / for your name’s sake.” Before we can heal our nation, we must look inwardly and heal our own hearts. Get your own life in order before you criticize the political landscape around you. Then get on your knees and pray for the injustices you see around you. God is our only hope.

How does this apply to my life?

Today’s prayer: Lord, before I ask you to heal our nation, I ask you to heal my heart. Lord, I ask that you cleanse my heart of my sin. Amen

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Have integrity of heart

Good morning. Today’s scripture comes from Psalm 78:72 (NIV):

“And David shepherded them with integrity of heart;
With skillful hands he led them.”

Psalm 78 is written by Asaph, David’s choir director, and he retells the story of how Israel rebelled and was not faithful to God after He delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. The Israelites gave their thanks by forgetting what God had done for them. Asaph shares the Jewish history all the way up to David’s reign as king, every sad detail.

Even though David is called a shepherd here, he is the king when this Psalm is written. Some of the Bible’s great leaders started as shepherds, including David, who was tending his father’s flocks when his father sends him on an errand to check up on his brothers on the front line of Israel’s war with the Philistines. David was prepared to battle Goliath because he had killed a bear and a lion while protecting his father’s flock. Being a shepherd was an honorable trade in the days of David, who learned responsibility through his daily tasks. The flock was completely dependent on its shepherd, for guidance, protection, and provision. David didn’t know it as a boy, but he was learning to lead a much bigger flock later in life.

Perhaps you are going through a rough stretch of life – unemployment, loss of home, becoming a single parent, struggles with your teenager, etc. Maybe God is using this time as a training ground, much the way David’s shepherding prepared him to lead Israel. Maybe God has something bigger for you later, and you need to learn lessons first, before moving on to what God has for you. You must act responsibly during this training ground time. You may not know what God has for you later, but you must be ready when he calls you. Our families need to see act responsibly during rough times; respect is earned.

Most importantly, you must act with integrity. Temptations will continue to infiltrate your life when you are unemployed or after going through a divorce. David was a skilled leader years later, because he learned humility during that time of being alone. When he had no one to talk to, he talked to God. He learned to hear God’s voice in the quiet of the night, when the only sounds that could be heard was the baying of sheep. During difficult times, God wants us to act in faith and obedience. Trust God to see you through the storm, and obey his laws. David’s integrity was strongest when he was fighting his toughest battles.

How does this apply to my life?

Today’s prayer: Lord, let me be a man of character right now. May others see you through my actions. Amen

Monday, August 03, 2009

Fulfilling my vow

Good morning. Today’s scripture comes from Psalm 76:11 (NIV):

Make vows to the Lord your God and fulfill them.

For the past two months I have been praying for a job. In the interim, I’ve been freelance writing a little, but not enough to pay the bills. Specifically, I have been praying for a 20-30-hour-a-week client as an anchor, one that pays well and allows me to do the ministry that I desire. Frankly, I don’t want a 40-hour-a-week job that pays well if it means not having the time or the energy to minister to the homeless and jobless.

Last week, I believe my prayers were answered. I worked nine straight days as a contract copywriter, working for a nearby marketing company. It was a trial-run for my client and for me. Although I had never done this kind of work, the skills I had as a journalist are invaluable to me in this line of work. Friday was pay day, and we have a mutual agreement to continue. Because it’s contract work, I don’t know how many hours it will be every week, but that first nine days was busy much of the time. That’s where faith comes in: Lord, provide for my needs.

I did my halleluiahs on Friday, and over the weekend, I realized I had to fulfill my vow in my prayer time. God answered my prayer beyond my expectations, and now I must figure out what it is God is calling me to do in ministry. I have lots of options, and it will take more prayers to determine the direction God wants me to go. My job prayer was answered, but not my ministry prayer. I have been praying about praying for the unemployed. I have been praying about volunteering in a homeless shelter kitchen one day a week. I have been praying about jumping back in and ministering to the single men I used to minister to, many of whom have followed my path to marriage. Plus, my step-son may be going to public school in a few weeks, and maybe God has a plan for me to minister to high school kids in a different way than teaching provided.

I don’t know which direction to go, but God does, so I must seek him out. I’m back in the waiting game. One prayer down, one to go. Maybe I need more patience. Maybe I just need time to focus on my new work opportunity. I have an obligation to my new boss, to give him my best effort every day during my working hours. Most importantly, I made a vow to God, and I must fulfill it. I told God that if he provided me the right job that affords me time to volunteer in the community that I would do it. Maybe it will be another two months of prayer before I know the answer. I know God will answer this prayer, too.

How does this apply to my life?

Today’s prayer: Lord, thank you for answering my prayer for work. Now, I ask for wisdom in deciding how to use my volunteer time with my church and the community. Amen

Friday, July 31, 2009

What sin is crippling you?

Good morning. Today’s scripture comes from Psalm Acts 3:2-6 (NIV):

Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them. Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”

All the beggar was looking for was alms, nothing more. Day after day, he sat there with his hand outstretched. “Alms for a cripple,” he must have cried out. Perhaps he was placed there by relatives who hoped for more money from pious Jews from this select spot. This is the same temple gate Beautiful that Jesus must have passed through en route to the temple many times – and passed the man by. Theologians believe the man was in his 30s or 40s, so he may have been at this spot for decades.

Being crippled, he would not have been allowed to go into temple because he would have been deemed “unclean.” For much of society, he was an outcast. Maybe his family left them all day to get a little relief. Did they leave him food or water? Or did they expect others to feed him. Jews came to the temple to pray in the morning, at mid-afternoon and at sunset, and the man was set at a place where he could get the most attention?

The cripple knew no other way of life. He had lost hope. He wasn’t praying every day for a miraculous healing; all he wanted a little cash for food. What if God had answered his simple prayer and left it at that? The man never would have walked. How many times when we are praying, do we just ask for what we’re used to, or what we want? God answers prayers according to our needs. God’s plan is often better than what we ask for. God answers prayer according to our needs.

As a friend in my Bible study said, “It’s not God’s plan to make you comfortable on your way to hell.” This cripple was headed for hell. Peter and John set him free by introducing him to Jesus Christ of Nazareth, which was far better than a little cash. He was expecting alms, but ended up walking away. God knew that’s what he needed. That’s how God acts on our behalf. John and Peter gave this man a life he never knew by healing him. What sin is crippling you? What handicap is keeping you away from a relationship with Christ? Stop making excuses. It’s time to ask God to remove the handicap and get up and walk.

How does this apply to my life?

Today’s prayer: Lord, forgive me for asking what I want. I ask you to meet my needs. What I need most, Lord, is you. Fill me up. Amen

Read my other blog at http://jobseekerchronicles.com

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

God restores our honor

Good morning. Today’s scripture comes from Psalm 71:19-20 but please read the entire chapter: It’s beautiful! (NIV):

Your righteousness reaches to the skies, O God,
You who have done great things.
Who, O God, is like you.
Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter,
You will restore my life again.

Close your eyes and think about how many scrapes you’ve gotten through in your lifetime when you thought there was no way out? How many were there? A few? Dozens? Hundreds? If you’re being honest, it will take awhile, because the truth is we have survived far more times than we have failed. It’s just that the bad memories linger in our minds far too long, and we don’t think about the successes enough.

It’s not about being humble when we remember the good times. The anonymous Psalmist
says he is a “portent,” meaning he is a testimony to others of what God has done for him. He is an old, gray-haired man as he writes this, and he wants others to know the lifetime of blessings and grace God has given him over the years. He wants others to trust God as he trusts him and to know that He is a constant comfort to him.

The old man’s life was not a bed of roses. He has felt shame, been pursued by wicked men, his enemies have spread lies about him, and God made him see his many “troubles.” Yet, he wants others to know that he has trusted the Lord since he was a boy. Over and over, he praises God for rescuing him from tough circumstances, while his accusers “perished in shame” after conspiring against him. He has hope because of God. He tells everyone that the praise should go to God, not him.

The Psalmist is real when he says he is fearful. He says “Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God” in verse 18. A moment later he says he trusts God to “restore my life again” in verse 20. Verse 21 goes a step further, saying “You will increase my honor and comfort me once again.” We may go through tough times in life, but it’s comforting to know that those struggles lead to honor later. That’s why it’s so important that we share our stories with others. They need to hear how God saved and comforted us in rocky times.

How does this apply to my life?

Today’s prayer: Lord, help me to have the confidence in you that this Psalmist has. Give me the courage to share your hope with others. Amen

Read my other blog at http://jobseekerchronicles.com

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

God’s amazing provisions

Good morning. Today’s scripture comes from 1 Kings 19:3-6 (NIV):

Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life, I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was a cake of bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water.

Have you ever felt like the prophet Elijah, where you throw up your hands and say “That’s it. I’ve had enough, Lord! Take my life!” Then you go take a nap. We’ve all had that “just wanna die” moment. Then we go to the bedroom, close the door and take a nap, falling asleep exhausted mentally, physically and spiritually, with tears in our eyes. Then we wake up an hour later with an angel at the foot of the bed with some milk and cookies. Happens to me all the time.

Elijah has just killed 400 of Jezebel’s pagan prophets, and he runs for his life. Elijah has been a faithful prophet to God who speaks the truth to King Ahab. Elijah felt alone in his diligence. He bravely confronts Ahab and his idolatry. Elijah felt afraid, depressed and abandoned, all at once. You can see why he ran, and why he just wanted to lie down and die. If he died, he knew he’d be in heaven with the Lord, and the running in fear would be over.

Instead of doing as Elijah wished, God provided a miracle for him. Next to him lay water and a hot meal. (Funny, but all the times I told my son I was going in my room for a nap, I never woke up to a bottled water and a hot loaf of sourdough bread.) Being totally wiped out, Elijah ate and went back to sleep. When he woke up, the angel told him to get off his butt and walk for 40 days and 40 nights to meet God at Horeb. Elijah did as he was told. His body was not ready for the long trip ahead.

God wasn’t done with Elijah, but before God could use Elijah, he had to meet his immediate needs. He nourished him and gave him rest for the journey, which was long and arduous. That’s how God works. He doesn’t throws us into a huge life scrape, then ask us to do some big mission when we’re scared and pooped. During that down time is when God meets us, but before he sends us out on a journey, he wants one thing from us: a relationship. God wants to know us, and he wants us to know him – intimately. That means time and energy put into the relationship.

It’s OK to be fearful, and it’s OK to be running on empty. It happens in life. For us to really get to know God, we must believe that he can provide miracles when we are without hope and have nowhere else to turn. Out of a job? Trust God to provide you with food, clothes and a roof over your head, because he promises us that much. We must also trust that God will provide the right job at the right time. Between now and then, he just wants to hang out, and he wants to hear from us. Even if all we have is pleas for God to take our life, God wants to hear our voices calling out to him. King David did it all the time, and God never tired of hearing from David.

Now get up. You don’t really want to die. Life is always worth living. There’s a journey ahead; we just don’t know where it leads, and that scares us. We aren’t in control anymore. Whether you’re unemployed or just in a rough job situation, God still has a plan for you. God first wants us to be nourished and rested up. Trust that God will provide. Sometimes God provides in ways that just amaze us. It’s during those times of astonishment that our faith in God is deepened. We grow more dependent on his provision. That’s what God wants us to know – that we can always rely on him.

How does this apply to my life?

Today’s prayer: Lord, thank you for your provisions. Help me to rest up for the journey you have for me ahead. Help me to wait patiently for you. Amen

Read my other blog at http://jobseekerchronicles.com

Monday, July 27, 2009

Lord, I need you NOW!

Good morning. Today’s scripture comes from Psalm 70:5 (NIV):

Yet I am poor and needy;
Come quickly to me, O God.
You are my help and my deliverer;
O Lord, do not delay

There are times in our lives that our prayers are like David’s here: “O Lord, do not delay.” David needs help right NOW! Yet, other times, we pray in the immediacy, but there isn’t quite the sense of urgency. I need a job today seems important right now, but then we realize that we have money in the bank, the mortgage is paid, and there is food in the fridge. God knows the difference between NOW! and what can be answered later.

We’ve all experienced those prayers that need immediate answers. We panic. We say a quick prayer. This is one of the shortest Psalms, and you can sense David’s haste. He’s on the run, he’s short on time, and yet he takes the time to pray to God. This would be one of those get on bended knee and pray for a minute type prayers, then get up and go again. Yet even in David’s panic and haste, he still takes the time to praise God.

What happens when we feel a sense of urgency and God doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to answer our prayers? It isn’t easy to say to yourself, “OK, God must know something I don’t. Maybe I don’t have to panic. This isn’t as urgent as I thought.” We can breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that we can wait. We can change our prayers. “OK, Lord, what do you want from me today? What do you need from me right NOW?”

In that time of waiting, God is still working through us. He will reveal his plan to you. He just isn’t in the hurry that we are. It may not be the same plan we had for ourselves. We must be willing to alter our course and get on His path. Maybe he wants to teach us patience. Maybe he wants our focus off our worldly possessions and our titles and to get back to loving Him with all our hearts. Maybe he wants us to be reliant on him and not our own power. Those things take time. One day at a time, but start NOW!

How does this apply to my life?

Today’s prayer: Lord, help me to see my life as you do. Help me to see the immediacy, and help me to see where I need patience. Amen

Read my other blog at http://jobseekerchronicles.com

Friday, July 24, 2009

Shout for joy

Good morning. Today’s scripture comes from Psalm 66:1-2 (NIV):

Shout with joy to God, all the earth!

Sing the glory of his name;

Make his praise glorious

Yesterday, I was reading through a note on Job Connections (a non-profit employment agency in the East Bay) from a person who had just gotten a job. The woman, Jane, was thanking the people she had met at the Saturday morning meetings and all the support she had gotten while she was unemployed. She realized that she wasn’t alone in her job search. As an extended way of thanking people, she invited others to come and see her photography exhibit in San Francisco. That was her way of asking others to celebrate with her.

That’s the way it should be when our prayers are answered. The anonymous author of this Psalm is so thankful, he’s shouting for joy, and he, too, wants to celebrate with friends. While you’re at it, sing! It’s a great way to let off some steam. David often celebrated answers to prayer by singing his praises, or playing his soothing harp, or even dancing. David knew what it meant to be thankful. I think one of the reasons God said David was a man after his own heart was that he was honest in his time with God, and when his prayers were answered, everyone in Jerusalem knew because David let them know.

The Bible is filled with different forms of celebrations of thanks. When Moses and the Israelites successfully crossed the Red Sea, Moses’ sister Miriam led the throng in worship. David dances in the streets. Jesus celebrated with the wedding party by making wine out of water in Cana. In Jesus’ last recorded moments with his disciples, he has breakfast with them on the beach. In the parable of the Prodigal Son, the father celebrates his wayward son’s return home by barbecuing a fatted calf. The list goes on and on.

So who gets the credit when you succeed? You or the one who gave you the talent to accomplish great things? God gave you the talent you have, so he is the one who should receive credit. Too often, we sit back on our own laurels. Or worse, we don’t learn from our down time and realize the power of God working through us. Perhaps this unemployment time is just God’s way of getting hold of you and getting you to realize that it isn’t all about you. Take this time to recognize the many blessings God has given you, and thank him, today. He deserves the credit, not you.

How does this apply to my life?

Today’s prayer: Lord, every day people lose their jobs, and people get new jobs. I pray for strength for those who are just starting out, and I praise you for the jobs attained today. Amen

Read my other blog at http://jobseekerchronicles.com