Archive for April, 2010

Applying Yourself

April 30, 2010

Yesterday evening I had the opportunity to spend some time with my youngest son, the other two were gone to a concert.  While we were playing basketball, we noticed our neighbor across the street pulling a wagon in his yard.  After further investigation we discovered he was going to plant flowers in a flower bed.  John asked, “dad, do you think Mr Al needs help?”  Al is getting up in years and has a hard time getting down on his knees.  I responded, “John, why don’t you go and ask Al?”  John’s response was classic, “Dad, you go with me and ask for me.”

At this moment I realized I had a teaching opportunity.  This mornings devotion was God’s teaching opportunity in my life. I read the first seven chapters of Proverbs.  Chapter 2:2 spoke volumes into my life, “So that you incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding.”  Solomon was teaching us that God offers wisdom to those who apply themselves in seeking wisdom.

I realize how easy it is to become dependent on others for your answers and for your growth.  Maybe you ask, “What do you mean?”  How often do find ourselves reading what others are saying about God’s word instead of reading God’s word?  How often do we rely on a Sunday School teacher to dig out the deep things of God instead of digging ourselves?.  I promise you, there are things about our faith that can only be claimed by those who “APPLY THEMSELVES,” to a daily time of digging through His word.

Solomon wrote, “For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth comes knowledge and understanding,” 2:5.  God will not withhold wisdom. He will give it in abundance to those who apply themselves.

John discovered this in a practical way.  He applied himself and walked across the street and asked, “Mr Al, do you need any help?”  You could see Mr Al light up.  For the next hour John helped Mr Al plant flowers and more importantly Mr Al imparted wisdom to John through conversation.

Let me encourage you every morning to come before the Lord in a quiet place with an open bible.  Ask the Lord to give you His understanding as you apply yourself to reading His word.  Next, allow me to encourage you to apply yourself to carrying out His word in your daily life.

I leave you with the precious word of the Lord, “But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him,” I John 2:27.

He Understands!

April 29, 2010

Last week our family traveled to a funeral service for the father of a dear friend to our family.  On the way back we stopped and spent the evening with my best friend.  He is one of those guys who loves to give my kids gifts that challenge their minds.  Last week was no exception as he gave John a gift that he said, “he had been trying to work out for 50 years.”  One week later our family still hasn’t figured it out.

This morning’s bible reading covered Psalms 141-150.  Psalm 147 was a great blessing in my life as I read the following, “Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite,” 147:5. As I read this, I thought, “How does the Message translate this verse?”  “Our Lord is great, with limitless strength; we’ll never comprehend what He knows and does.”  Wow!

Our God does not only enter into our circumstances, He understands every angle and He understands what the outcome will be.  Even though our family does not know how to work the puzzle given to us, our God does.

How often do we find ourselves dealing with the puzzle of life and we throw up our hands and we say, “I give up.”  God’s response to this is simply, “Praise the Lord.”  Our God wants us to give up searching for answers in our finite mind and simply seek His wisdom.

Please understand, God is not in heaven trying to figure out an answer for your problem.  God has had the answer since before time began.  What He is waiting for is simply for you to figure out that He alone has the answer for all you are facing.

So swallow your pride and humbly admit to God, “I don’t understand, but praise Your name because You do.”  Now that you have taken the hardest step,take the next step and submit to His will in this situation.  Simply pray, “Lord I do not have to understand all of my circumstances, I simply trust that you do and you will work it out for the best.”

Friend, there is something liberating about such a prayer.  It seems as if real peace comes.  For me, it allows me to do the things He has called me to do without the distractions of things I cannot do.

I leave you with the precious word of the Lord, “He is not impressed with horsepower; the size of muscles means little to Him.  Those who fear the Lord get God’s attention; they can depend on His strength,” Psalm 147:11.

How Many Time Do I Have To Say It?

April 28, 2010

Admittedly, there are days when my patience is thiner than others.  For example, “When my eight year old asks the same question, over and over again.”  I have often wondered, “Why he asks over and over again the same question?”  Could it be that he is not understanding my answer?  Or could it be that he is not sure of my answer?

As I was reading Psalm 131-140 in my devotions I found myself bothered by the repetition of the Lord’s words in Psalm 136.  There are twenty-six verses in this chapter and at the end of each verse we find the following words, “For His mercy endures forever.”  I wrote in the margin of my bible, “How many times does He have to say it.”  As soon as I wrote those words, truth came into my heart like a surgeon’s knife.  The reason God was saying this over and over was because God’s people did not understand or humbly walk with the God who had given them mercy so many times in their history as a nation.

Suddenly I realized how often God has to remind me of the same things over and over again because I stubbornly don’t listen or because I sometimes doubt what He says.  I also realized this was my eight year olds problem. Sometimes he is not listening to my response so he asks again.  But at other times he is asking again because he is not sure if I really mean what I am saying.

Question, “Are there things in your life that you are struggling with today?” Are there moments when you doubt what God is saying or you cannot imagine how He can accomplish what He has promised. In those moments you must do several things. First, you need to discover what God says about your struggle.  Search each passage in God’s word. You will discover He speaks to your struggle time and time again. Secondly, pray for faith to take Him at His word.  The question will not be if God does have an answer.  The question will be, “Will you listen and obey his answer?”

Twenty-six times in one chapter the Psalmist writes, “His mercy endures forever.”  Please allow this to soak in.  I encourage you to read the chapter and insert your circumstances in place of Israel’s circumstances. I believe you will discover His mercy endures forever.

I leave you with the precious word of the Lord, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting,” Psalm 139:23-24.

I Need Help

April 27, 2010

Yesterday was one of those days that leaves a person, if they are not filled with God’s wisdom, drained and filled with heaviness.  The day began wonderfully with my time with God and it continued that way in staff meeting and in fellowship with my brother pastors.  But then the day began to get heavy as God placed me in contact with people from several places who were in need of help in many different ways.  I found myself feeling the heaviness of those who had genuine needs.

So about five pm I left my office and walked outside to my van.  It was misting rain and I started to walk a little faster.  As I approached my van I looked across the highway as I often do and there he stood.  There standing in the misting rain was a man standing over the grave of his recently departed wife.  The heaviness that I felt intensified as the Lord impressed upon my heart, “Go and talk with Him.”  I crossed the road and for the next few minutes I entered into this man’s life and I joined him in the pain he was experiencing.

This mornings devotions covered Psalm 121-131.  Psalm 121 begins as follows, “I will lift up my eyes to the hills-From whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth,” 1-2.  As I read these words my mind went back to the moment I stood there by the grave of this departed love one.  I simply listened as my brother shared his heart.  We began to share together what God’s word had to say about His circumstance.  Suddenly I felt the heaviness of the moment lift.  By the time we prayed, the weight was gone.

God in His sovereign will had led me across the highway to encourage a brother and to remind me that when I need help, simply call on the Lord who is the source of all help.  I am so thankful for His help, because every day I meet people who have impossible situations to deal with.  I am so thankful it is not up to me to meet their impossible needs, because I cannot do it. But our God is a God of help.

Maybe you are feeling heaviness in your life?  Let me encourage you to cry out to God, “I need help.”  And let me encourage you to surrender your heaviness to the Lord and simply trust Him with the end result of all you face.  Be assured the God who loves you can carry the weight.

I leave you with the precious word of the Lord, “The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore,” Psalm 121:8.

It Looks Good

April 26, 2010

Several years ago I traveled to New Mexico for a ministry conference. The conference was great, but it was good to be going home.  As I waited in the airport to return home, I looked through the gift shops to find my kids a gift.  I have always tried to bring them something back from wherever I travel in ministry.

As I looked through the gift shops I settled on gifts for each kid.  In my mind they each looked good.  In particular I was excited about Beth’s gift. It was a watch that had a leather band with stones from the area.  But what looked good to me, wasn’t so good to my daughter.  I offered it too her with pride and expectation of her joy, but instead I was met with, “daddy why did you get me such a thing?”

This morning’s devotion covered Psalm 111-121.  In particular I spend much time in Psalm 119.  I encourage you to dig deep in this chapter and watch the word come to life for you.  In particular I was gripped by Vs: 37, “Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, And revive in me Your ways.”  The Psalmist cried out to God to take his focus aways from worthless things and empower him to focus on the right things.

How does this happen? Psalm 119:9 gives us the answer,”How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed to the word of God.”  Before us are things that look so good but later we discover they were not nearly as good as we thought.  The writer of Psalms is encouraging us to test everything against the word of God.  I have discovered it is the word of God that keeps me on the right path and it is the word of God that helps me to avoid things that only look good.

If I had only talked to my daughter about the watch, before purchasing it, I would have saved money and heartache. Its the same way with every decision in life.  If we would only talk it over with God and look for His answer in the word, we would avoid heartache.

So let me encourage you to be in the word daily and even every hour meditate on His word. His word with keep you from traps and His word will lead you in correct paths.  My daughter has taught me, “If you want to know the facts about a person, just ask.”  Its the same way in our walk with Christ.”

I leave you with the precious word of the Lord, “Your word is a lamp to m y feet and a light to my path,” Psalm 119:105

Speaking Up!

April 23, 2010

We live in an era when it seems that everyone has an opinion about everything regardless whether they have any factual knowledge of what they are offering their opinion about.  For example, “My youngest son has such a desire to be engaged with his daddy’s conversation’s with other adults that he sits and listens for an opportunity to jump in.” Last evening I was sitting with my best friend and John at the table eating popcorn and watching the evening news.  Suddenly John speaks up about our president and says, “What does he know about what our country needs.”  Certainly he could be right, but what knowledge does an eight year old have about such matters?

As I was reading through Psalm 101-110 this morning I found my mind being informed about the subject of mercy.  Time and time again I grew in my understanding of the wealth of God’s mercy.  For example, “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to ager, and abounding in mercy,” 103:9.  By the time I finished chapters 103 I was in tears and I was praising God for His mercy.  So great is His mercy that we discover those who come to Christ have their sins removed and even the memory of those sins is removed from God’s presence.  Check out Psalm 103:12.

As I continued to work my way through these chapters, mercy and more mercy came ringing through. I was really taking this all in until I came to Psalm 107:1-2, “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!  For His mercy endures forever.  Let the redeemed of the Lord say so…”  At this moment God’s word cut like a knife.  Here I am being exposes to truth and I am rejoicing in this truth. But there is to be more, I am to share this truth.

The fact is I am to speak up about this truth.  I actually wrote the words, “SPEAK UP,” in the margin of my bible.  God reminded me of my neighbors who hear so many things in their daily lives but do they ever hear the truth of the mercy of God?  I wonder, do they ever get to see the mercy of God being lived out in front of them?

I realized how much I have experienced the mercy of God and I realized how little I extend the mercy of God.  It was my prayer this morning, “God help me to live out the truth of your mercy with everyone I encounter on a daily basis.  Thank you Father for reminding me to speak up.”

I want to encourage you to speak up with your life and with your lips.  Oh how we need to say so to our world today!

I leave you with the precious word of the Lord, “Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness. And for His wonderful works to the children of men!  Let them exalt Him also in the assembly of the people, And praise Him in the company of the elders,” Psalm 107:31-32.

The Seasons of Life

April 22, 2010

One of the many things I love about living in Kentucky are the different seasons of the year.  Yesterday as I was driving I was so blessed to view springtime and all the wonders of our God.  To see the trees in full bloom and to gaze at the lush green grass is a creation only from God.  To smell the fresh air and to watch the sun rise in the spring is truly an amazing thing.  To experience the cool morning air and then watch as the temperature rises to a comfortable seventy degrees is a blessing from heaven.

This morning’s devotion covered Psalm 91-100.  In particular the words of Psalm 92 claimed my heart’s attention.  The Psalmist is writing about our need to praise God for His love and faithfulness.  Here is what he wrote in verse one, “It is good to give thanks to the Lord, And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; to declare Your lovingkindness in the morning.  And your faithfulness every night.”

As I read this verse I made the connection that in the morning I am to begin my day with praise for His love in every part of my life.  In the evening the last thing I should do is to praise Him for His faithfulness in the day.  This is to be the daily desire of my life in every season of life.

Here is where the rubber meets the road.  How often do we only praise the Lord in certain seasons?  Later in the same chapter the Psalmist wrote, “Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God.  They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing,” 92:13-14.  Our God intends for us to praise Him in every season of life.

It’s not just in springtime and summer but in the fall and in the winter months of our lives.  This passage helps me to understand that His love and His faithfulness are sufficient for every season of life.  So let me ask you, “What season of life are you in?”  Do you feel as if you are in the frozen wintertime of a circumstance or in a relationship?  If so praise Him for His love and praise Him for His faithfulness because He will come through.  The sun will shine again.

If you are in the springtime of your circumstances, praise Him and do not fail to give honor to Him alone because it is the Lord who has blessed you to experience such joy in your life.   I praise my God that it is springtime in Kentucky, but I also praise God that it is springtime in my soul today even though my circumstances are sometimes in the winter.

I leave you with the precious word of God, “Unless the Lord has been my help, my soul would soon have settled in silence,”  Psalm 94:17

It’s Over Before You Know It!

April 21, 2010

Yesterday my oldest son turned fifteen years old.  He is now taller, in may ways smarter, and even stronger than his day.  I found myself reciting the old cliche, “it’s over before you know it.”  It seems like only yesterday when it was April 20, 1995.  The time was 10:27 Pm and our firstborn son was coming into the world.  There have been many wonderful days, but they have gone by too fast.

As I was reading Psalm 81-90, I was reminded of this as the Psalmist wrote, “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom,” 90:12. It is the wise person who seeks the Lord’s direction for every moment of his or her life.

If we fail to have God’s perspective on life we will waste our lives with many less than ideal things.  For instance, “How much time have I wasted watching TV?  How much time have I wasted in pursuits of things that really did not grow the kingdom of God?”

Giving honor to whom honor is due!

April 20, 2010

One of the worst things a person can do is to forget someone when they are giving thanks for a project completed.  I have failed so many times when I was trying to honor a group of people.  This has happened so many times that I have come to the place where I usually just say, “Thanks to everyone who has worked.”  Yes this seems so impersonal but I don’t want the heartbreak of leaving someone out.

As I was reading Psalm 70-80, This fact came rushing into my mind, “How often have I forgotten to give God honor for all that He has and continues to do in my life?” Here is the verse that rocked my world, “By You I have been upheld from birth; You are He who took me from my mothers womb.  My praise shall be continually of you,”  Psalm 71:6.  As I read that last sentence, I felt deep conviction about the many times I have received honor when the honor belonged to Christ.  Oh how many times I have hurt Him in not giving Him credit.

What makes it worse is the fact most people think I have given Him honor.  I have responded when someone said, “great message,” with, “Praise the Lord.”  But deep within I liked what was being said about me.  In these defining days of my life the Lord is bringing these things out so that I can repent and so that I can really give honor to whom honor is due.

I wonder are you giving Him honor?  I think it is most crucial for us to give him honor.  Jesus said, “If we lift Him up, He will draw all men to Himself.”  If my children are going to serve Christ they must see me lifting Him up.  If my neighbors are going to serve Christ they must see me lifting Him up.  If my church is going to serve Christ they must see me lifting Him up.

I pray this devotion challenges you to consider, “who gets the honor in your life?’  The person who gives Him honor in everything is the person who is making a great impact on his or her world.  Oh that it would be each who read this today.

I leave you with the precious word of God, “But I will hope continually, And will praise You yet more and more.  My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness.  And your salvation all the day, for I do not know of their limits,” Psalm 71:14-15

A Trip To The Store

April 19, 2010

When I was growing up in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky, our family had a weekly ritual.  The ritual took place on Saturday.  We would get up early and drive 20 miles on curvy mountain roads to the local town and do our weekly shopping.

I still remember the dime store and the place where we would have lunch.  Then the day would be completed by the last stop, “The Mother Goose Supermarket.”  As a child the store seemed so large with isle after isle of groceries.

Several years ago I returned to this same town and drove by this supermarket.  As you know, it was much smaller than I remembered.  You see having traveled and lived in much larger towns has eclipsed my view of this store.

I was reminded of this as I was reading Psalm 57-70 in my morning devotion.  Here is what the Psalmist wrote, “Blessed be the Lord, Who daily loads us with benefits.  The God of our salvation.”  As I read this, I began to meditate on how God always provides for us what we need and we can never exhaust His supply.

Every week we would go to the store and return home knowing that the supplies we purchased would only last for one week.  Then we would have to return once again.  I am so thankful that His supply never runs out and we do not have to wait for one certain day, Sunday, to receive His supply.  We can meet with Him daily.

I pray He is the first place you go when you awaken.  When you feet hit the floor may it be to walk to your quiet place to spend time with God.  Adrian Rogers wrote, “God should be our first thought, not our last resort.”  Unlike that little grocery store, I have discovered God is bigger and bigger as I spend more and more time with Him.

So I wonder, “When was the last time you went to His store and spent time walking the isles of His grace and sitting down in his book section, Word of God, and read for a while?”  If you only go once a week, you will miss out on the daily blessings intended by God.

I still can see that supermarket and is it small in comparison to the Super Kroger in my town today.  I also realize the things of this world are small in comparison to 0ur God.

I leave you with the precious word of God, “O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water,” Psalm 63:1