Friday, June 17, 2011

Psalm 121

A song of ascents.
 1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
   where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
   the Maker of heaven and earth.

 3 He will not let your foot slip—
   he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
   will neither slumber nor sleep.

 5 The LORD watches over you—
   the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
   nor the moon by night.

 7 The LORD will keep you from all harm—
   he will watch over your life;
8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going
   both now and forevermore.

These verses are just perfect for me right now. Stephanie and I are on our first day of vacation. Our vacations can be very adventurous. We always take a long motorcycle trip. This year we are heading out west for nearly three weeks. We have gone on 7 of these and 2 of them we have had some major mechanical problems. But, God has always brought us through every trial. He certainly has watched over us. Even though these problems have been stressful, we have never been harmed.

My life has been the same way. I have had some stressful times, but I have never been harmed. God has watched over us and protected me and my family. I don't know how people survive without God in their lives. I can't imagine going through job issues, illness, loss, and family stresses without my savior.

I am excited about this trip with my wife and my God. I love adventure. I know God will be with me. I'm no different than anyone else, I don't want to have stress in my life, but I am so happy to have a great savior who loves me, protects me, and watches over me. Praise God he does!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

 Psalm 120

A song of ascents.
1 I call on the LORD in my distress,
   and he answers me.
2 Save me, LORD,
   from lying lips
   and from or deceitful tongues.

Have you seen the movie Liar,Liar? In this 1997 movie Jim Careys son wishes his Dad would not be able to lie for one day. His wish comes true. What makes it more difficult is that Careys character is a lawyer. It's pretty tough for a lawyer to be openly, blatantly honest. It makes for some pretty funny scenes. But, in our society, honesty, is not nearly as popular as it once was. At school our attendance secretary gets every excuse in the book about student absences. Many times it is the students parents that lie for them. We wonder why kids act the way they do.

God wants us as Christians, on public display, to have integrity. We need to let our yes be yes and our no be no. Our credibility will determine our witness. If we re known a a liar, who will believe what we claim God has done in our lives. Before we can build meaningful relationships with non-Christians we need to be honest, always. Honest leads to the truth of Jesus. The way, the TRUTH, and the life.

Monday, June 13, 2011

More advice!

Psalm 119

 9 How can a young person stay on the path of purity?
   By living according to your word. 

I'm not done giving advice. Many of our recent graduates will be flying the nest in the next several months. Many will be traveling a distance from home to be on their own for the very first time in their lives. The curfews will be gone. The quizzing from Mom and Dad will be over. They will set their own schedule. They will have more freedoms than they've ever experienced in life. The path of purity will be full of dangers. 

My advice is to live according to the word of the Lord. God has provided all of us a great manual. The Bible is just as relevant today as any time in history, maybe  more.  It is especially relevant to the young people leaving the nest. God's word will give guidance with those tough decisions. The more and more you read and study the word, the more relevant it becomes in your life. The more you open up the Bible, the more you will be aware of the Holy Spirit guiding your life. If anything is true in my life it is my increasing love of the message God has sent us in the Bible. Open it, Read it, Study it, let it become apart of your life. 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Graduate Advice

Psalm 118

 1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; 
   his love endures forever.
 2 Let Israel say:
   “His love endures forever.”
3 Let the house of Aaron say:
   “His love endures forever.”
4 Let those who fear the LORD say:
   “His love endures forever.”
 5 When hard pressed, I cried to the LORD;
   he brought me into a spacious place.
6 The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid.
   What can mere mortals do to me?
7 The LORD is with me; he is my helper.
   I look in triumph on my enemies.

GHS Graduation 2011 was completed on Friday Night. Now let the parties begin. I have been to more than my share of Graduation parties. It is a great day in the life of a family. It is a milestone that deserves a celebration. Everyone gets involved with the graduation. Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, long lost cousins, first cousins twice removed, you get the point. Almost everyone has a little advice for the graduate. By the time the party's over, I'm sure the graduate has had more than enough. But, just in case they haven't had enough, I'm going to share a bit of my own. It is not really my own advice. It comes from the Bible. The Bible is the ultimate Book of Advice. This wonderful book is full of the wisdom of the ages. God has provided it for us and we need to look to it more for our own advice.

Psalm 118:1 is one of the best pieces of advice you could ever get. "Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his love endures forever."  If you can repeat this verse through all things you will truly be blessed. It's easy to repeat this on a day like today. The weather is beautiful, graduation is complete, school is out, and vacation is 3 days, 16 hours, 7 minutes, and 30 seconds away. (Not that I'm counting) But I certainly have had times this year and in my past the words of this Psalm are nearly impossible to speak. Nonetheless, they are true at all times. They are true in good times and bad. They are true even if we can't utter them. I praise the name of the Lord for he IS good. His love endures forever. Thank You Lord, Thank You, Thank You!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Not Unto Us

Psalm 115

 1 Not to us, LORD, not to us 
   but to your name be the glory, 
   because of your love and faithfulness.
 2 Why do the nations say,
   “Where is their God?”
3 Our God is in heaven;
   he does whatever pleases him.
4 But their idols are silver and gold,
   made by human hands.
5 They have mouths, but cannot speak,
   eyes, but cannot see.
6 They have ears, but cannot hear,
   noses, but cannot smell.
7 They have hands, but cannot feel,
   feet, but cannot walk,
   nor can they utter a sound with their throats.
8 Those who make them will be like them,
   and so will all who trust in them.
 9 All you Israelites, trust in the LORD—
   he is their help and shield.
10 House of Aaron, trust in the LORD—
   he is their help and shield.
11 You who fear him, trust in the LORD—
   he is their help and shield.
 12 The LORD remembers us and will bless us:
   He will bless his people Israel,
   he will bless the house of Aaron,
13 he will bless those who fear the LORD—
   small and great alike.
 14 May the LORD cause you to flourish,
   both you and your children.
15 May you be blessed by the LORD,
   the Maker of heaven and earth.
 16 The highest heavens belong to the LORD,
   but the earth he has given to mankind.
17 It is not the dead who praise the LORD,
   those who go down to the place of silence;
18 it is we who extol the LORD,
   both now and forevermore.
   Praise the LORD.[a]

Friday, June 10, 2011

I want Blessed!

Psalm 111

 10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
   all who follow his precepts have good understanding.
   To him belongs eternal praise.

Psalm 112[a]

 1 Praise the LORD.[b]
   Blessed are those who fear the LORD,
   who find great delight in his commands.

 2 Their children will be mighty in the land;
   the generation of the upright will be blessed.
3 Wealth and riches are in their houses,
   and their righteousness endures forever.
4 Even in darkness light dawns for the upright,
   for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous.
5 Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely,
   who conduct their affairs with justice.

I want blessed!

Do you see the blessings that come form knowing the Lord and loving him with all your heart? The list of blessings start with the most important gift God can grant.............wisdom. There is nothing more important to survival here on earth or more valuable in your every day life than wisdom. But, God grants even more than wisdom. He grants strength to you and your children. He promises to provide for them and you. He promises to be there to protect you, even in the darkness of life. He will provide the light of Dawn to get us through our tough times. Our main role in these blessings is to be gracious and compassionate. He expects us to be generous and giving of our selves. He expects us to treat others and to act justly.  That really is a small set of demands. If we can do those things the blessings will flow and God will make himself  evident in our lives.

God is wonderful to those who fear (respect/honor) him. He is the direct supplier of all things wonderful in this life and the life we will live in Heaven. God is the center of all blessings. We need to do our part and we will soon experience his amazing power. Do you want blessed? Now you know what to do!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Love the Hater!

Psalm 109

For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.
 1 My God, whom I praise,
   do not remain silent,
2 for people who are wicked and deceitful
   have opened their mouths against me;
   they have spoken against me with lying tongues.
3 With words of hatred they surround me;
   they attack me without cause.
4 In return for my friendship they accuse me,
   but I am a man of prayer.
5 They repay me evil for good,
   and hatred for my friendship.

 6 Appoint someone evil to oppose my enemy;
   let an accuser stand at his right hand.
7 When he is tried, let him be found guilty,
   and may his prayers condemn him.
8 May his days be few;
   may another take his place of leadership.
9 May his children be fatherless
   and his wife a widow.
10 May his children be wandering beggars;
   may they be driven[a] from their ruined homes.
11 May a creditor seize all he has;
   may strangers plunder the fruits of his labor.
12 May no one extend kindness to him
   or take pity on his fatherless children.
13 May his descendants be cut off,
   their names blotted out from the next generation.
14 May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the LORD;
   may the sin of his mother never be blotted out.
15 May their sins always remain before the LORD,
   that he may blot out their name from the earth.

 16 For he never thought of doing a kindness,
   but hounded to death the poor
   and the needy and the brokenhearted.
17 He loved to pronounce a curse—
   may it come back on him.
He found no pleasure in blessing—
   may it be far from him.
18 He wore cursing as his garment;
   it entered into his body like water,
   into his bones like oil.
19 May it be like a cloak wrapped about him,
   like a belt tied forever around him.
20 May this be the LORD’s payment to my accusers,
   to those who speak evil of me.

 21 But you, Sovereign LORD,
   help me for your name’s sake;
   out of the goodness of your love, deliver me.
22 For I am poor and needy,
   and my heart is wounded within me.

I have to admit I have had had these types of thoughts about people in the past. Maybe not to this extreme. Though, I can't ever remember wishing some ones kids be fatherless. But, I am ashamed to say I have had thoughts about wishing bad things toward people. I'm not justifying it, but as sinners, it is in our nature to be this way. I beg forgiveness for these thoughts. As a follower of Christ I should spend my time in prayers for those people who hurt me. I have had a wounded heart before. But, that is not an excuse to wish ill to someone.

God wants us to love our enemies. He doesn't want us to pray for their demise. He wants us to pray for them and to go beyond , by reaching out to them. I find that so hard to do. I find it nearly impossible to treat those that wound my heart so deeply, with love. It is so easy to love those that love me. I would do anything for those people. I need to be willing to do the same for those who hate me.

Dear Lord, Please forgive me for my hate toward my enemies. Please forgive me for not treating them with YOUR love. Give me a changed heart. Give me the strength to love them and go out of my way to help them. I can not do it out of my own strength. I need your help. In you great and powerful name, I pray. Amen!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Just along for the ride!

Psalm 108

12 Give us aid against the enemy,
   for human help is worthless.
13 With God we will gain the victory,
   and he will trample down our enemies.

When Stephanie and I go on motorcycle rides. I do all the driving. She does not Pilot the motorcycle. It appears to all who see us, that I am doing all the work. But, do you realize she is an integral part of the ride. She is not just along for the ride. When we go through turns, she has to lean precisely with me in order for us to smoothly negotiate the curve. She acts as another pair of eyes to watch other drivers and potential road hazards. We work together for an enjoyable and safe ride. There have been so many times we have been saved because of her vision when I wasn't paying attention. It might look like she's not doing anything, but I am so much safer when she is with me.

In my life, it looks like I am doing everything. It looks like I am the Pilot of my own destiny. But, I can tell you that is not true.  My help comes from the Lord, not humans and certainly not from within me. God really directs my life and is the key to making things smooth and safe. As Christians we take a lot of the credit for aiding the poor and the sick. You would think as followers of Christ we would realize it's not us. When we offer financial aid, or give our time, or talents, it is not us but God who works through us. We should Praise him not praise ourselves. God  puts us in the right place, at the right time, with the right resources to help others. He is the victor! It looks like it's us but we know that God is the one behind us and directing us. 

Why is it we are so quick to praise ourselves and reluctant to praise God! We face a lot of hardship and sickness in this world. Many times we get to the point we feel helpless to overcome those things. Yet, when we do it is not of our hand but the hand of the Lord that deserves the credit. 

Praise God as he is the source of all help and is the only real victor. Really, We are just along for the ride!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

God's Love Endures Forever!

Psalm 107

Psalms 107–150

 10 Some sat in darkness, in utter darkness,
   prisoners suffering in iron chains,
11 because they rebelled against God’s commands
   and despised the plans of the Most High.
12 So he subjected them to bitter labor;
   they stumbled, and there was no one to help.
13 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
   and he saved them from their distress.
14 He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness,
   and broke away their chains.
15 Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love
   and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
16 for he breaks down gates of bronze
   and cuts through bars of iron.

We are a stubborn people. It is no wonder that God must submit us to bitter labor, trials, and tribulations to get us to focus on him. You have to admit more people come to know Christ when they get to the lowest point than at the highest point of their lives. I say this realizing that I am no different. I love the Lord through all things but I have to admit my prayers are much more focused when things are going bad. God knows us. He hates to see us suffer but he also wants a relationship with us. He knows the best way to do that is to break us down, so that we have no place else to turn. Some get to that point quicker than others. Some are more stubborn and it takes a ling time to turn to God.

Where are you? Why not turn to God now and save the pain of suffering. Do I mean you will have no more troubles? No, but when you realize the God of the universe is on your side, you can face all trials and tribulation. Knowing the most high God is on your side will make you shout with praise even when things are at their worst. Praise God his love endures forever!

Monday, June 6, 2011

God knows best!

Psalm 106
New International Version (NIV
12 Then they believed his promises
   and sang his praise.

 13 But they soon forgot what he had done
   and did not wait for his plan to unfold.
14 In the desert they gave in to their craving;
   in the wilderness they put God to the test.
15 So he gave them what they asked for,
   but sent a wasting disease among them.

How often do you pray? Ok, how often do you pray for God to do something specific for you? How often do you get whatbyou want? I have to say, more often than not I get what I want. Is that always a good thing? NO! Sometimes God gives us what we want but that's not always the best thing.

I think the hardest prayer to pray is the one asking for Gods will in our life and leaving the details upnto him. You know, he really knows best. God has a plan for our lives to prosper us in ways we could never imagine. He has blessings set aside for us that may never get realized because we want to be in charge. I need to change how I pray. I need to pray for the wisdom to do Gods will. I need to pray that my friends and family draw closer to God. If that prAyer is answered then they will have a life filled with blessings and when hardships come along, they will be able to count them as blessings from God.

Your will Lord, not my own!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Look at what God has done!

Psalm 105

 1 Give praise to the LORD, proclaim his name;
   make known among the nations what he has done.
2 Sing to him, sing praise to him;
   tell of all his wonderful acts.
3 Glory in his holy name;
   let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.
4 Look to the LORD and his strength;
   seek his face always.
 5 Remember the wonders he has done,
   his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced,
6 you his servants, the descendants of Abraham,
   his chosen ones, the children of Jacob.
7 He is the LORD our God;
   his judgments are in all the earth.

I had a chance a couple of weekends ago to present a devotion to a secular motorcycle rally. These people weren't your regular church-goers. Yet, they still attended. They didn't have to come. But, because we came to the rally, I think they felt obligated. I was able to share a little about what God has done  in my life. I am reminded constantly of the wonders God has done in my life. If I could share those miracles every day, I would.

I have found there is nothing more valuable, when witnessing to someone, than your own personal experiences with God. I used to think I really had nothing to share. But, I realized that God has worked in some amazing ways in my life. I'm not sure exactly when I realized it but God has performed miracle after miracle in my 51 years of life. When you finally get to the point when you realize God's presence in your life, you need to share it with everyone. God is directly involved in your life. God is always with you. You just need to recognize it.

Lord, I praise you and praise your name for the blessings and miracles you have performed in my life. From my birth into a great family who loves you, to my adolescence, to finding my wonderful wife, the gift of 3 great daughters and now 2 son-in-laws, to great careers and jobs across the country, all of these things are wonderful gifts from you. Thank You Lord for thinking about me and guiding me through life. Amen!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Work, work, work

Psalm 104
23 Then people go out to their work,
   to their labor until evening.

 24 How many are your works, LORD!
   In wisdom you made them all;
   the earth is full of your creatures.
25 There is the sea, vast and spacious,
   teeming with creatures beyond number—
   living things both large and small.
26 There the ships go to and fro,
   and Leviathan, which you formed to frolic there.

Work, work, work! I am just 3 days away from the end of another school year. I am ready. I think everyone gets that way with their jobs once in a while. God has appointed us to labor all the way back to Adam and Eve. Work is work. That is my profound wisdom. if work wasn't work it would be fun! I know you Think I'm crazy. Even though I don't like my work sometimes, I do consider it a gift from God. All work is appointed by God. That's true at least for us believers. When we turn our lives over to God, that includes our work. He has put us where we are for a reason. It might be to help a coworker, to support a fellow employee. It might be to help the company. It might be to bring moral judgement to an immoral company. it might be to stand up for someones rights. Even though my purpose is not always clear, I will just have to trust my savior. He alone knows the why's and wherefores of our jobs. He created work for us. Trust him to get you through when tough times arrive!

One of my dear friends is going through uncertainty at work. I pray God will reveal his plan to her so she can relax and look forward to a brighter future! God knows what he's doing.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Poor Memory!

Psalm 103

New International Version (NIV)
8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
   slow to anger, abounding in love.
9 He will not always accuse,
   nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
   or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
   so great is his love for those who fear him; 
12 as far as the east is from the west,
   so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
 13 As a father has compassion on his children,
   so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;

14 for he knows how we are formed,
   he remembers that we are dust.
15 The life of mortals is like grass,
   they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
   and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting
   the LORD’s love is with those who fear him,
   and his righteousness with their children’s children— 

I love my girls. McKenzie, Lindsae, and Kelley are wonderful daughters. I can't remember a time when I wasn't proud of them. I am sure there were times, but I can't remember them. As I watch them build there own families or make their own way in this world, I have nothing but pride.

I never really thought of this verse in the way I think about my daughters. But, I can get some sense of how God feels about us when I think about my daughters. I am sure when they were growing up, I was mad at them from time to time. I had to punish them for not following the rules. They aren't angels and never have been. But, just like God, I have completely forgotten about those times.  Oh I can vaguely remember driving down the Sawmill Parkway in New York and threatening to pull over if they didn't stop fighting in the back seat of the car. It was on this occasion, I actually followed through with the threat. I don't even remember what they were doing so bad. Now, I only remember the comical side of this event.  I truly don't remember our arguments, I don't remember my anger with them. 

God has promised to do the same thing with us. He really doesn't remember our confessed sin. He has only pride for us and his Love is the only thing he remembers. The same love and admiration I have for my kids can be magnified 100 fold in terms of God's Love for us. Being a Dad I can relate to that special love he has for his children. Praise God!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Chocolate works!

Psalm 102

New International Version (NIV)
 1 Hear my prayer, LORD;
   let my cry for help come to you.
2 Do not hide your face from me
   when I am in distress.
Turn your ear to me;
   when I call, answer me quickly.
 3 For my days vanish like smoke;
   my bones burn like glowing embers.
4 My heart is blighted and withered like grass;
   I forget to eat my food. 
5 In my distress I groan aloud
   and am reduced to skin and bones. 

6 I am like a desert owl,
   like an owl among the ruins.
7 I lie awake; I have become
   like a bird alone on a roof.
8 All day long my enemies taunt me;
   those who rail against me use my name as a curse.
9 For I eat ashes as my food
   and mingle my drink with tears
10 because of your great wrath,
   for you have taken me up and thrown me aside.
11 My days are like the evening shadow;
   I wither away like grass.

It seems like I'm always hungry. I have gained some weight over the last couple of years. I used to spend a lot of time running which helped keep my weight down. Now, I am so busy that I don't take the time to run or keep my weight down. When I'm stressed, I eat. Chocolate is the preferred stress relief food. 
I can't relate to forgetting to eat. I have lost my appetite because of a stressful situation but not to the point of forgetting to eat. My entire body is affected by stress. These verses are from a severely stressed person.

I don't handle stress very well on my own. If I try to do it on my own, it usually ends in disaster. I need to trust more in my Savior to get me through these stressful times. Stress is dangerous. Not only can it affect your eating habits, but it can affect everyone physically and mentally. You need to come up with some way to deal with your stress. Prayer works. Letting God speak to you through scriptures works. Diving into Christian service works. Confiding in a close dear friend works. Getting away works. Sleep works. Hobbies work. Sweat works. Chocolate works!

God guarantees stress will be a part of our lives here on Earth. He also guarantees he will help us through tough times. He provides several ways for us to deal with stress. They are gifts from him. He loves us and it pains him to see us suffer, especially when we do not rely on him.

Dear Lord, Help me to deal with the stress in my life. Help me to do positive things to relax and reduce the stressors of my day. Thank You Lord for your love thank you for your grace. I love you and worship your name. Amen!