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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The long hand of God

Good morning. Today’s scripture comes from Psalm 69:1-3 (NIV):

“Save me, O God,

for the waters have come up to my neck.

I sink in the miry depths,

where there is no foothold.

I have come into the deep waters;

the floods engulf me.

I am worn out calling for help;

my throat is parched.

My eyes fail,

looking for my God.”

When I was a boy about 12 years old, I was working with my older brother on the ranch that we grew up on. It was summer time. I think it was general cleanup around the mill that my dad ran. We had a pit, and we were told to clean it up. I went down the ladder first, and when I got to the bottom, I simply jumped off onto what I thought was solid ground. Instead, it was water, and deep, because I remember plunging down a few feet under water.

Immediately, panic set in. I remember flailing and feeling completely helpless, even though I was a good swimmer. The unexpected can lead to fear. When I bobbed up, I yelled out to my brother, who was there in a flash to pull me up. I don’t know whether I would have drowned or not, but in my mind I’ve always thought my brother saved my life that day.

While my panic episode lasted all of five seconds, David seems to be mired in a sea of distress. In 69:8 he says he is being scorned by his brothers. He has cried out so much, his throat hurts, which indicates that he truly is weary. Yet, he never stops calling out to God. Isn’t life like that sometimes? We’re sailing along smoothly, then we get pulled under for a moment. A minute later, we’re bobbing up and down helplessly. After a while, our strength is gone.

We don’t know why, but sometimes we just have to suffer a little. I don’t think God purposefully puts us in those situations; it’s just what life is. How we respond is what makes us strong. When we get through those times, we must be thankful. David is in distress at this moment, but a short time later, he is hopeful. He reminds himself of God’s past help in times of trouble. By the end of this Psalm, David is giving praise to God. And just as my brother’s hand reached out for mine, we must trust that God’s helping hand will find ours, just in the nick of time.

How does this apply to my life?

Today’s prayer: Lord, thank you for sparing my life that day as a boy. Thank you for my brother’s hand when I needed it. I know this time, too, shall pass. I will praise you for your faithfulness. Amen

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Mighty men surrounded David

Good morning. Today's scripture is from 1 Samuel 22:1-2 (NIV): "David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Abdullam. When his brothers and his father’s household heard about it, they went down to him there. All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him; and he became their leader. About four hundred men were with him."

As we read through the Psalms, we see David on the lamb much of the time, seemingly lonely as he lay awake in the middle of the night, gazing at the stars. But make no mistake; David was never truly alone, though he surely missed his immediate family. The Bible calls these men that followed the transient king, David’s Mighty Men. Sometimes they were described as “The Three,” or “The Thirty.” In truth, many of them were outlaws and outcasts from society.

What they shared in common is that they looked up to David as their leader. Many of them became great military leaders in their own right. “The Three” (Josheb-Basshebeth, Eleazar, and Shammah) became David’s trusted military strategiests. “The Thirty” comprised David’s body guards. The Bible says as many as 600 men followed David around the countryside. David’s brothers and members of his father’s household also were part of the group. These men were completely loyal to David. Much of the time these men followed David, he was basically an unemployed king. They were not hanging around David for riches and comforts. They slept under the stars, were constantly on the run, and hid out in caves from their enemies. Yet they constantly were victorious in battle against much larger forces.

David’s leadership abilities motivated these men to greatness. These men looked up to David as their leader. They knew David was a man of character who sought out God at every turn. These men became heroes by sticking tightly with David. They not only were there to protect David, they fought side by side with him in battle, and they were his friends. Part of what made David a great leader was that he was among them, not separated from them. These men went through thick and thin with David. When they were hungry, he was hungry. He did not set himself above them.

Every man should follow David’s example of being a man and a leader. David was no lone ranger. He always had men around him who held him accountable; men such as Nathan the prophet. David’s men surely saw him in prayer every day. They surely saw the struggles he faced in the dessert while on the run from his many enemies. David was a good leader when he was following his leader, God. At some point, David realized he needed men around him during trying times, and God provided men who were faithful to David. We all can learn from David about seeking excellence in our lives. Real men act like David by putting God first and developing authentic relationships around them.

How does this apply to my life?

Today’s prayer: Lord, help me to be more like David. Help me to seek you every day, and help me to lead like David. Help me to keep men in my life that will hold me accountable. Amen

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Only God can quench our thirst

Good morning. Today's scripture is Psalm 63:1:

O God, you are my God,

earnestly I seek you;

my soul thirsts for you,

my body longs for you,

in a dry and weary land

where there is no water.

David loved the Lord, and he was passionate about seeking God. That’s what friends do; they make time for each other and want to spend time together. When David makes the effort to meet God, God is there for him. David seems to be in the desert hiding, possibly during Absolom’s rebellion. He is lonely, and he simply wants to be in God’s presence. He knows he isn’t alone, because he feels God’s presence.

David is in a desert time when it is hot and dry. Maybe you’re in a desert time, whether it be unemployment, a tough time on the job, a divorce, or even facing a difficult time with your kids. During those desert times when we are alone is a great time to seek the Lord. Read all of Chapter 63. David is awake in the middle of the night, so he seeks God. Verse 6: “On my bed I remember you, / I think of you through the watches of the night.”
David is lying awake, looking up at the stars, so he just talks to God.

The next time you’re lying awake and unable to sleep, just get up and go spend 30 minutes being silent. Try to listen to what God has to say to you. Turn your sleepless night into reflection and worship, then watch the worry go away. God loves to spend time with us when there are no outside distractions. Early in the morning works well, too. Maybe you’ll even feel like lying down in your back yard and looking at the stars.

Desert times don’t last forever. They always have an ending. David turns to God because “his soul thirsts for God.” Nothing else can quench his thirst. That thirst is a metaphor for David’s deepest longings. He knows only God can satisfy him, so over and over, he turns to Him. Verse 3 says “Your love is better than life.” David knows that God loves him, and he constantly reminds himself of that fact when he faces a tough desert time. David knows God’s right hand will uphold him. We can have that same assurance if we turn to God in our loneliness.

How does this apply to my life?

Today’s prayer: Lord, you are my refuge and strength. My soul thirsts for you, and you are the only thing that can quench that thirst. Amen

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Finding refuge when we are weary

Good morning. Today's scripture is: Psalm 61:1-4 (NIV) Hear my cry, O God;
listen to my prayer.

From the ends of the earth I call to you,
I call as my heart grows faint;
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

For you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the foe.

I long to dwell in your tent forever
and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.

Maybe you can relate to David in this Psalm. You’re in a rough place, and you don’t know where to turn. No matter what you do, bad stuff happens. At times, you may feel as if you’re cursed. “Lord, am I ever going to get out of this place?” “Lord, am I ever going to get a job?” “Lord, am I ever going to lose this feeling of loneliness?” “Am I going to come up with this month’s mortgage payment when I’m already behind two months?” “I feel so worthless.” “I feel so helpless.”

David felt all those emotions, and more. The Psalms are filled with David’s prayers, crying out to God when he just can’t take it any more. David was tired of running. He hated the constant hiding out from his enemies. He was hungry. He was sleep-deprived. He was dirty. He was away from his family. The roof over his head often was the stars above him. His enemies were chasing him. Everywhere David looked was bad news. Is this ever going to end?

Yet, David never stopped crying out to God. He trusted his relationship with the Lord. He knew he could rely on God – even in the worst of circumstances. Let’s face it; few of us faced the kind of turmoil that David was up against. We whine and complain just the same. David’s heart is growing faint. He’s on the run, and everywhere he ends up, he stops and prays. He counts on God being bigger than his problems. He counts on God being his refuge. He knows his strength comes from God, and he wants that place of safety for the rest of his life. He knows he can kneel down, take a break for a minute and be under God’s protection.

We need that same feeling. No matter what comes at us, we have to be faithful and trust God. Maybe you’ve never been totally committed to God in such a way, and you’re scared of the outcome. That’s right where God wants you. You have nowhere else to turn but him. Give God a shot; it’s better than the alternative. Doing it all on our own strength just makes us weary. God’s strength never runs out. He’s always got a little more for us. We just have to take that first step and trust.

How does this apply to my life?

Today’s prayer: Lord, help me to trust you in the darkness. You are the light in everything I do. Shine a light where I need to go. Amen

How can I pray for you today? Just e-mail me and let me know. I want you to know that God cares about you and wants to hear from you.

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Feelings of rejection

Today's scripture comes from: Psalm 60:1-3 (NIV) You have rejected us, O God, and burst forth upon us;

you have been angry – now restore us!

You have shaken the land and torn it open,

mend its fractures, for it is quaking.

you have shown your people desperate times;

you have given us wine that makes us stagger.

Rejected is a powerful word. The Thesaurus lists such synonyms as abandoned, denied, deserted, dropped, forsaken, jilted, refused, returned, shunned. How many of us have felt abandoned, denied, forsaken, jilted, or shunned in our lifetimes. Abandoned by friends. Denied entrance to a certain college. Shunned by colleagues. Forsaken by God. We can overcome most of those situations with some time, but to feel like we’ve been forsaken by God is tough. David, the author of this Psalm, is feeling rejected by God. It doesn’t get any worse than that.

The worst part about feeling rejected by God is the aloneness. It’s a horrible feeling. It is easy in troubling time, through divorce, loss of job, the inability to get a new job, or the loss of a friendship, to feel alone. At some point, we begin to wonder where God is, or maybe if he’s even there. Has he left the building? Is God silent? Is God angry with me? Is our nation, indeed, quaking? Let’s look at what the Bible say about such circumstances?

Let’s first look at what God’s word says about those four questions. Hebrews 13:5 says “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” That passage is clear that God has not left u, so abandonment is not possible. God will always be at your side, and that is a comfort in difficult times. Still, maybe God is angry with us or our actions. Look further at the passage: Be content with what you have in life and don’t desire the things of this world. Maybe God just wants your focus to be on him and not our toys.

David realizes that God is angry with Israel, but he still asks Him to “restore us!” David acknowledges that God has “shaken the land” and that it needs mending. These are desperate times, he concludes. People are staggering around him, perhaps from too much wine, which is a metaphor. Perhaps the stuff that’s going on in your life is what is bringing us to your knees, not God. Often, the natural consequences of our choices is what is flooring us. It could be something as simple as buying too many “things” on credit, then not being able to keep up with the credit card payments. The answer comes in verse 12: “With God we gain the victory.” Don’t put your faith in the world; put God first, and the feelings of rejection disappear.

How does this apply to my life?

Today’s prayer: Lord, we as a nation have rejected you and put our hopes in the world. We have not put you first, and it has shaken us. Help us to turn to you for our help. Amen

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Get yourself a Nathan

Good morning. This is today's scripture for today's devotional:

Scripture: 2 Samuel 2:7 (NIV) Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! … Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites.”

As I read through the Psalms, I keep coming back to Psalm 51 – David’s powerful revelation that he had sinned against God. David is now aware that Nathan knows of his adultery with Bathsheba and has murdered her husband. David has come to the realization that he has deeply disappointed God, and he cries out for mercy. In Psalm 51:10, David pleads with God to “create in me a pure heart.” He wants a new spirit. But what God David to this point of conviction?

One word: Nathan. The prophet Nathan was God’s voice in David’s ear over and over during his reign. Nathan held the most powerful man in the land accountable for his actions. “Dude, you slept with another man’s wife, then you killed her husband to cover up her pregnancy. What in the world were you thinking!” Then David realizes his mistake, and bawls his eyes out. Men, we need a Nathan in our lives. We need guys in our lives who will hold us accountable. We can’t do it on our own. Ladies, do not get involved with a man who does not have other men in their lives. The solo act doesn’t work.

Nathan was the man. David listened to him, because he had earned his trust. David knew that when Nathan spoke, it was God’s voice. Nathan was fearless, confronting David when he was full of himself. David, as king, needed someone to keep him in line. Nathan was careful in confronting David for his sin. He didn’t nitpick. Nathan wanted David to be the godly leader over Judah and Israel. Nathan was David’s most trusted confidant.

Men, as we go about our daily lives, we must find a Nathan in our lives, someone who will ask the tough questions. It may be asking us if we’ve been adequately searching for a job. It may be someone asking us if we’re going on line and looking at pornography. It may be someone who asks us if we’re being the best husbands or boyfriends we can be. If we’re dads, are we being actively involved with our kids. If you don’t have a Nathan in your life, today is a good day to start looking for one. If you have a Nathan, listen to his wisdom and thank him for being in your life. He is a true friend.

How does this apply to my life?

Today’s prayer: Lord, thank you for the many Nathans in my life. Thank you for their friendship and accountability they give me. Amen

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The ultimate protector

Today's scripture comes from:

Scripture: Psalm 59:9-11 (NIV) O my Strength, I watch for you;

You, O God, are my fortress, my loving God.

God will go before me

and will let me gloat over those who slander me.

But do not kill them, O Lord, our shield,

or my people will forget.

In your might make them wander about,

And bring them down.

In the classic movie “Caddyshack,” Carl the greens keeper tells a not-too-confident Ty Webb, that he can take care of Judge Smails before their big-money match by delicately cutting his hamstring with a knife, thereby ruining his golf game. Carl doesn’t want to kill Smails, he just wants to derail his golf game. OK, enough of the silly comparisons.

David seems to soften his tone a little with God in this Psalm, only wanting to make his enemies wander around a little before God takes care of them. Contrast that with the countless times in the Psalms when we see David practically begging God to annihilate his enemies. In this passage, David seems to be feeling a little more confident. “Don’t destroy them, Lord, just wound them a little.” Instead of death, David simply asks God to let him brag a little over his enemies.

David feels wickedness all around him, but his confidence comes from his faith in God, whom he calls his “Strength.” Because it’s capitalized, Strength is what David is calling God. David is praising God because of his continued help in trying times. David ends Psalm 59 (vs. 7) with: “O My Strength, I sing praises to you; / You, O God, are my fortress, my loving God.” O the beauty of David’s poetry. Fortress is a term meaning protection coming from God.

A fortress signifies that it is fortified or well protected, so David goes so far as to say all of Jerusalem is under his protection. God not only protects us, he protects our homes and our families. Being a single adult, with or without kids in the home, is not easy. It has its ups and downs, often caused by the anger of an ex spouse. It is comforting to know that we can take a deep breath and exhale slowly, knowing God is our ultimate protector.

How does this apply to my life?

Today’s prayer: Lord, thank you for your protection from my enemies. You are good. Amen

Monday, July 13, 2009

A good and faithful God

Good morning. This is a devotional for single adults from Parenting Solo, but the message also applies to single adults without children who may one day marry a single parent and be a step-parent. Feel Free to forward it to a friend.

Scripture: Psalm 57:2-3 (NIV) I cry out to God Most High,
to God, who fulfills his purpose for me.
He sends from heaven and saves me,
rebuking those who hotly pursue me;
God sends his love and his faithfulness.

My confidence has its ups and downs as I search for a job. One day, I get a lot accomplished on my Todo list, and I feel great. The next day, I get a bundle of “nos” from editors for my story ideas, and my ego is crushed. The difference in how I feel at the end of the day is vastly different from how it started. How do I cope?

Let’s look at how David endures his many trials. In this Psalm, David may be hiding in a cave from Saul. David is having a bad day, having been cornered by Saul’s men. David knows he can stop running by pulling out his knife and stabbing the king who is hounding him out of pure jealousy. David knows he can end it all right then and there, but he knows that isn’t God’s purpose for his life. We can’t take shortcuts when life gets tough.

That’s the key. Look at the words again: “… to God, who fulfills his purpose for me.” David knows he can’t take the easy way out by taking Saul’s life, so he sits quietly in the cave while Saul relieves himself in front of David and his men. David had to remind himself that it wasn’t his time to be king. That’s what God expects from us when we are cornered. Remember God’s plan for our lives. That’s what I have to tell myself when I receive a half-dozen “no’s” on my work. It isn’t personal. I have a plan, and I’ve asked God to bless it. My mission is to get published, any way I can. I cannot fulfill my purpose without getting published.

Like David, I know I will feel God’s “love and faithfulness” each day. Yesterday was a rough day? Today is a new day, and I can bank on God being in my corner to love me and support me. We’re OK financially, for which I’m thankful. Sometimes I have to remind myself that God is good and has a plan for my life – especially when I’m feeling bad about myself. No matter how bad it may seem, my day isn’t nearly as people I meet on my journey. That keeps me looking ahead, to fulfilling God’s purpose for my life.

How does this apply to my life?

Today’s prayer: Lord, help me to wait patiently for your timing. Help me to see, you every day, good or bad. Help me to remember that you are good and faithful. Amen

Doug Mead
Parenting Solo

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Vol. 4, No. 77

This week’s reading plan can be found at http:/

Friday, July 10, 2009

Watching God take over

Good morning. This is a devotional for single adults from Parenting Solo, but the message also applies to single adults without children who may one day marry a single parent and be a step-parent. Feel Free to forward it to a friend.

Scripture: Psalm 54:1-2 (But please, read the entire chapter; it’s short.) (NIV) Save me, O God, by your name;
vindicate me by your might.
Hear my prayer, O God;
listen to the words of my mouth.

In times of trouble, it is easy to feel hurt and betrayed. Maybe you’re suddenly out of a job and wondering how to pay the mortgage. Maybe you’ve been abandoned in a relationship. Maybe you feel cornered because a creditor is hounding you. David clearly feels hurt and betrayed here, but we don’t know in what context he is reaching out to God and we don’t know explicitly who injured him.

What we see from David is the same pattern from him throughout the Psalms. David first presents his plea to God, then he turns it over to God, then he praises him for resolution. What is important for us to see is that David is confident that he can be open with God and express his true feelings and not hold back. He’s angry and he lets God know it. He isn’t angry AT God, it should be noted; he’s just angry, either at someone or just the situation.

Here’s how it looks, in order: David asks that God “save” him. He asks that his name be vindicated. He tells God the problem, as he sees it. He reminds himself that God is his helper. He remembers that God will sustain him during this tough time. He allows for God’s justice to seek vengeance for him. He is even so bold to believe that God can obliterate his enemy. (“In your faithfulness DESTROY them.” That’s way cool!). He makes a freewill offering to God. He praises God. And, finally, God delivers him from his troubles.

It’s no different today. Maybe we were let go by a merciless boss. Maybe the bank looks only at the bottom line and not you. Maybe our significant other is heartless. If we call out to God in our difficulties, he tells us he will help us. God offers us a safe haven from our strife. Being angry is OK for a little while, but eventually, we have to let go of that anger, because it leaves us bitter – and worse, stuck. God wants us to move forward. That means forgiving the offender, and turning our problems over to God and letting him deal with it. That is so much simpler than worrying about things we can’t control.

How does this apply to my life?

Today’s prayer: Lord, help me to let go of things I can’t control, like old bosses, finances, relationships. Help me to know what I should deal with and what I should give up to you. Then help me not to worry as I watch you take over. Amen

Doug Mead
Parenting Solo

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Vol. 4, No. 76

This week’s reading plan can be found at http:/

Thursday, July 09, 2009

God loves fools, too

Good morning. This is a devotional for single adults from Parenting Solo, but the message also applies to single adults without children who may one day marry a single parent and be a step-parent. Feel Free to forward it to a friend.

Scripture: Psalm 53:1 (NIV) The fool says in his heart,
“There is no God.”
They are corrupt, and their ways are file,
There is no one who does good.

The dictionary definition of a fool is “a silly or stupid person; a person who lacks judgment or sense.” The Biblical meaning of a fool is someone who rejects God. Some religions call unbelievers infidels. A foolish man doesn’t necessarily lack intelligence; he just doesn’t see the wisdom of knowing God. On the contrary, many atheists are highly intelligent and well educated, and if you called them a fool, they’d probably laugh at you and call you stupid for believing in God and not science.

What the fool really is saying is that he doesn’t want to be judged for his sins. He would rather continue on with his life, than contemplate life with out the fun. Change is the hardest thing we do in life. If there is no God, fools think they can avoid judgment. The Bible calls such thinking folly. (I call it poppycock.) As Christians, we know we will be judged for every sin and need forgiveness. We need a savior. If there is no God, there is no need for a savior and Jesus death on the cross served no purpose.

Such folly does not mean those people will not be judged. It goes against natural law that there be no consequences for our actions. There are laws and penalties in place in society to keep order. God’s laws, too, keep order in the universe. We have rules in place in the home to teach our children how to behave and how to one day be an adult that can abide by the rules of society.

Therein lies the battle. Nearly 45 years ago, prayer was taken out of the school. Teaching evolution without intelligent design came in a package deal. Relative thinking became the norm, and not the one truth of God in the classroom. Those students became adults and one day became our educators and political leaders. Scientific thinking is behind our greatest debate in our nation: science and pro choice vs. God’s unequivocal choice of pro life. Every life matters to God. Psalms 53:2 says “God looks down from heaven / on the sons of men / to see if there are any who understand, / any who seek God.” Even though men have turned their backs on God, He keeps looking for those who want to know him. He is a god who wants to be in relationship with every human being, even the fools. Our job is to look for fools (just don’t call them that to their faces) and bring them into God’s presence and let God do his thing. Today is a good day for that.

How does this apply to my life?

Today’s prayer: Lord, help me to be open to sharing who you are with someone who doesn’t know you. Help me to be bold in proclaiming your love and goodness to a fool. Amen

Doug Mead
Parenting Solo

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Vol. 4, No. 75

This week’s reading plan can be found at http:/

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Dwelling in beauty

Good morning. This is a devotional for single adults from Parenting Solo, but the message also applies to single adults without children who may one day marry a single parent and be a step-parent. Feel Free to forward it to a friend.

Scripture: Psalm 27:4 (NIV) One thing I ask of the Lord,
this is what I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple.

The other day I was talking with one of my pastors at church about a prayer ministry I am … praying about. We were talking about the different possibilities of praying for people and what it meant. We talked about the simplicity of prayer, what it means to people. It offers care, comfort and compassion, all in one fell swoop. Then he quoted this scripture by heart, and I immediately felt peace.

No matter what we’re going through, no matter how hard times are, in the end, it’s just a blip in the history of the universe. What really matters is that we be in the presence of the Lord, in whatever we do. In the long run, our time with him in heaven will surpass anything we will experience here on earth. Our time with the Lord strengthens us and allows us to face the world, no matter what it throws at us. God is offering us a relationship that lasts forever.

God offers us comfort and strength for today and hope for our future. He gives us confidence that everything will work out OK. Fear and loneliness are our worst enemies in times of trouble. Yet, we need to know that God is always with us in those times. David’s greatest desire was to be in the temple of the Lord. We don’t know if David was referring to the real temple in Gideon, or his heart. Perhaps when David wrote this, he was sitting in a dark cave hiding from his enemy, trying to bravely face his fears.

Unfortunately for far too many, it is not the desire of people to live in God’s presence each day. We fill our days with trivial things to complete our time slots. Maybe we think we need to make X amount of dollars to be happy. Maybe we stay busy so we don’t have to face the silence of our hearts. Maybe we avoid God for fear of the changes he might bring into our lives. When we take the time to “gaze upon the beauty of the Lord,” we are able to see the beauty of everything around us. It makes us want to slow down and enjoy the simple things of life. That’s the way God meant it; not the hustle and bustle we face around us today. That was enough for David. Is it enough for you?

How does this apply to my life?

Today’s prayer: Lord, help me to truly desire to spend time in your presence today. Help me to remove the clutter from my life and just enjoy being in your beauty. Amen

Doug Mead
Parenting Solo

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Vol. 4, No. 74

This week’s reading plan can be found at http:/

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

No lies before God

Good morning. This is a devotional for single adults from Parenting Solo, but the message also applies to single adults without children who may one day marry a single parent and be a step-parent. Feel Free to forward it to a friend.

Scripture: Psalm 51:3-4 (NIV) For I know my transgressions,
and all my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight.

Sin always hurts someone and usually multiple people are hurt. With adultery (and any other sexual sin, such as addiction to pornography), so much of society wants to cover it up and rationalize why it’s OK. “We’re two consenting adults. What’s the big deal? Nobody got hurt.” There is always a victim. The other spouse may not know about the adultery, but the marriage will have been damaged, and the relationship has been broken. Maybe years later, she will find out, and the hurt begins all over again. Questions arise. “Why did this happen?” “What did I do wrong?” “If only I had been more loving or affectionate toward him …”

Lies, all lies. Society is into the blame game, because it’s easier than accepting the consequences for our sins. David tried to cover up his transgression with Bathsheba by having her husband killed in battle. Later, the baby they bore together died shortly after childbirth. When David and Bathsheba committed adultery, they were not thinking of the consequences that would follow: her getting pregnant, the whole cover-up, him murdering Uriah, the baby dying. 2 Samuel shows David grieving heavily when his son dies. Yes, David’s sin affected a lot of people.

When Nathan confronted David, the king had nowhere to hide. He was caught red-handed. The key to Psalm 51 is that David doesn’t try to tippy-toe around his sin with God. Just the opposite. He pleads for mercy, asks God for forgiveness and asks for cleansing from his sin. David is clear that he knows his transgressions. He easily could have tried to keep his sin from others. He knows that his sin will always be on his conscience. He can never get away from it.

David also clearly understands the most important element in this whole mishap: “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.” Though the world may rationalize why sexual sin is OK, David understands that he can’t hide his sin from God. Ultimately, that is always what we face: a God of righteousness who sees all of our sins and knows we must pay for those sins somehow. David realizes that he must be able to go before God with a clean conscience. He is contrite, his spirit broken. When we have sinned, we cannot go before God with a proud spirit, trying to wipe away our sin as though it were nothing. God is always watching. We can never hide from our sin. The consequences never go away, no matter how hard we try.

How does this apply to my life?

Today’s prayer: Lord, help me to always be honest with you. My sins are before you. With you, I can hide nothing. Help me to come to you with a contrite spirit. Cleanse my heart, so that I can continue to come before you. Amen

Doug Mead
Parenting Solo

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Vol. 4, No. 73

This week’s reading plan can be found at http:/

Monday, July 06, 2009

Purifying our hearts

Good morning. This is a devotional for single adults from Parenting Solo, but the message also applies to single adults without children who may one day marry a single parent and be a step-parent. Feel Free to forward it to a friend.

Scripture: Psalm 51:10 (NIV) Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

First, David sees Bathsheeba bathing from his palace, he lusts after her, sends for her, commits adultery with her, she gets pregnant, he has her husband killed in battle to cover up his sin, then Nathan the Prophet confronts David about the scandal. David’s heart has become evil. Nathan confronts him, because David is no longer worthy of leading the Israelites. God has seen everything.

After this confrontation is when Psalm 51 begins. In the beginning of the chapter, we see David pleading for mercy, forgiveness and cleansing. When David realizes that Nathan is talking about him, he falls to his knees and seeks forgiveness from God. David doesn’t try to hide anything, because he realizes he can’t hide anything from God. He can lie to his men, but he knows God has seen every wicked event in his life. David is trapped in a corner, but instead of fighting back or trying to rationalize his deeds away, he falls to his knees. This is the kind of humility God expects of us when we turn from him and sin.

Midway through Chapter 51, David asks that God “create in me a pure heart” and “a steadfast spirit.” David knows that he must start life anew, and the most important thing is that he have a changed heart. David knows that his desires led him astray, and he knows he needs a heart transplant of sorts. Whenever we sin and fall from God, it means our own desires have overcome his desires for us. We have fallen to our fleshly desires. David wants a heart that seeks the desires of God’s heart. This does not wipe out the natural consequences of his sin, though, and David isn’t looking for that.

Sin is fun for a season, but in the end, it is always ugly. It can dominate our lives, especially sexual sin. Today is no different than 3,000 years ago with David and Bathsheeba. Sexual sin is still rampant among us. Adultery is still prevalent, particularly around pornography. Just as David had to rid his heart of sexual sin, we, too, must rid our lives of pornography. We must clean up our hard drives, maybe even shut off our computers for 40 days in order to get away from what makes us fall into Satan’s trap. Rid our house of magazines and smut. Throw every trace of the sin away. We must start over. As long as the temptation is still around, we cannot have a “pure heart.” It takes a “steadfast spirit” to overcome sexual sin. Sex cannot be an idol that separates us from God. Seek God, as David did, and ask him to cleanse our hearts.

How does this apply to my life?

Today’s prayer: Lord, purify our hearts. Help us to turn from sexual sin, as a nation, and to seek you with all our hearts. Amen

Doug Mead
Parenting Solo

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Vol. 4, No. 72

This week’s reading plan can be found at http:/

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Listen for God’s wisdom

Good morning. This is a devotional for single adults from Parenting Solo, but the message also applies to single adults without children who may one day marry a single parent and be a step-parent. Feel Free to forward it to a friend.

Scripture: Psalm 49:1-3, 20 (NIV) Hear this, all you peoples;
listen, all who live in this world,
both low and high,
rich and poor alike:
My mouth will speak words of wisdom;
the utterance from my heart will give understanding. …
A man who has riches without understanding
is like the beasts that perish.

There are many in America today praying that God will use this financial calamity to bring people to their knees to honor God. I am one of those people. I believe that God angry that our country has turned its back on him in favor of other gods – namely, money. Pornography, abortion, gambling, credit cards, big houses, fancy cards, big boy toys, electronic gadgets, et cetera, et cetera, ad nauseum.

It’s all about the Benjamins. Always has been, always will be. Throughout history, people have pursued money with a vengeance and forsaken God. Much of the story of the Israelites is about them turning from God and following the ungodly nations that surrounded them. God was in a constant tug of war over their hearts. The prospect of riches hardened people’s hearts toward God. Nothing new there.

Today is no different in America. People are getting rich over global warming and being green, all in the name of Mother Earth, the newest god. Politicians are lining their pockets with money from abortionists and gay rights groups. All the while, the people believe the messages being spouted and they forget the words that God has given us. We are in our current financial climate because of greed. We are mired in this money mess because people turned from God’s ways and went in search of wealth.

Now, we are a nation facing the consequences of that greed. People over-extended. People took out loans they shouldn’t have. Investments once thought sound went sour. Countless couples divorced under a mound of credit card debt because they bought too many fun things without the up-front capital. Digging out of this disaster will not be easy. If we try to get out the same way we got in, we will be stuck in the muck for a long time. The answer is to seek God’s word, which gives us wisdom. All those who have or had riches without understanding are lost. Without God, life is meaningless. Perhaps a few of those once-wealthy people brought to their knees will realize that they are in this position for a reason. You’re already down on your knees; you ‘bout as well pray and seek God’s ways, not your own.

How does this apply to my life?

Today’s prayer: Lord, help me to listen for your words of wisdom. Help me to tone out the ways of the world, and to follow only your voice. Amen

Doug Mead
Parenting Solo

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Vol. 4, No. 70

This week’s reading plan can be found at http:/

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Joy comes from an awesome God

Good morning. This is a devotional for single adults from Parenting Solo, but the message also applies to single adults without children who may one day marry a single parent and be a step-parent. Feel Free to forward it to a friend.

Scripture: Psalm 47:1 (NIV) Clap your hands, all you nations;
shout to God with cries of joy.

There is a difference between joy and happiness. Happiness tends to be affected by your surroundings. When life is plentiful, it is easy to be happy. Joy, however, seems to be oblivious to surroundings, at least at its core. Joy can be found amid great trials and tribulations. Joy can be found when you least expect it.

Even though I have been unemployed for a month today, I find intermittent times of joy in my life. Each time it happens, I realize it is because of God’s presence in my life, eternally, and at that very moment. I may clap my hands to the beat of a praise song in church on a Sunday morning, or raise them in exultation. I send up a quick prayer, thanking God for that feeling. I have to say, though, that it has been awhile since I truly shouted out to God in utter joy. Perhaps a whisper now and then. I wonder if that is the same thing.

I have found joy in looking at God’s beautiful design, such as the time a few weeks ago when I was hiking with my wife near Squaw Peak at Lake Tahoe. I smiled a broad smile when I was hired to write a simple story that paid very little; God sustained me for another day. I wake up happy that I slept soundly the night before, knowing I had not slept well the previous six months. I cried Sunday morning in church when I heard God’s voice giving me direction. I was gleeful in getting a 90 on my first test in an online class I am taking. I beamed watching my step-son play a song on the guitar that he had picked up only a year ago. I breathed a sigh of relief when my son told me he was hit by a car on campus and no bones were broken, though he was badly bruised. He is still alive.

Where are you finding joy these days? Can you find joy in the little things in life? Because if you can’t, when the big things in life come along, you won’t appreciate them. I have had to learn how to appreciate life, because I spent so much time wanting more and not enjoying the moment enough. The next line in this Psalm says it all: “How awesome is the Lord Most High.” Look around you today and find joy in the little things that God has given you. Then give thanks to the awesome God who provided your moment for you.

How does this apply to my life?

Today’s prayer: Lord, help me to be thankful for the little things. Help me to find joy in everything you give me. You are an awesome God! Amen

Doug Mead
Parenting Solo

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Vol. 4, No. 69

This week’s reading plan can be found at http:/