Wednesday, September 22, 2021

"I'm Really Afraid Of Him"

Little Johnny clutched his blanket tightly and pulled it up under his chin. His Dad was reading a bedtime story about God, Noah, and the flood. When he finished, his Dad asked what he liked best about the story.

“Nothing! I’m afraid God will flood our house, and all my toys will be gone!” he replied.

Many people only see that side of God. Whenever there is a disaster or a tragedy, they point a finger and say, “What kind of a god would do that? See, that’s why I can’t believe in him. I can’t trust him. He’s cruel and inhumane, uncaring and unconcerned.”

Psalm 97 seems to add to the confusion. It begins with a statement about the Lord reigning and that we ought to be glad and rejoice. Then the Psalmist writes, “Clouds and thick darkness surround Him, righteousness and justice are the foundations of His throne.” If that is the only picture of God that people have, no wonder they are frightened. Most people would be. Surely, that view of God is distasteful and disgusting.

But what did the Psalmist mean when he wrote those words? He is reminding us that God exposes and expresses Himself on His terms and in His time and where He chooses. Our God is a Holy God - and He, in love and compassion, made Himself available ultimately and completely through His Son. When we read that He is surrounded by “clouds and darkness,” it does not mean that He is hiding from us and is unapproachable. Not at all. Only that we come to Him on His terms. What are His terms?

Jesus defined them: “No one comes to the Father except through Me!” When we accept Christ as our Savior, He enters our life and nothing can separate us from Him, and we can know Him as He is: a God who cares, who is close, and who saves!

Prayer:  Thank You, Lord, for Your Son our Savior. We cannot understand all Your ways. Give us a faith to trust as well as to believe and accept Your love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Scripture For Today: Clouds and thick darkness surround Him, righteousness and justice are the foundations of His throne. Psalm 97:2

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

The Lord Reigns!

“Religion is an illusion of the emotions,” declared Sigmund Freud, the psychiatrist, “and its funeral is at hand.” And Frederick Nietzsche one day announced, “God is dead!”

No doubt that their gods died with them, but our God is alive and well and active in our lives! Shouted the Psalmist in Psalm 97:1, “The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad!”

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” wrote Moses. And He never abandoned nor cast aside His role in managing and controlling it. He continues to be the sole source and sustainer of all its life, the strength in all its movements, and the power behind its journey.

The earth spins like a top at 1,000 miles per hour without ever speeding up or slowing down so that we might have a predictable number of hours for each day and night. It is tilted at a specific angle that causes our seasons. And these two facts are only the beginning of the marvelous miracles of our planet. And why is this so? To demonstrate the fact that “The Lord reigns” – that our God will never surrender His power and control.

Our sun maintains a temperature that is warm enough to sustain us but never hot enough to burn us or freeze us to death when winter arrives. Why this consistency that we never question? “The Lord reigns” – that our God will always protect and care for us.

Wherever we look and whatever we study, we see a pattern of consistency and continuity, predictability and potential. God does reign. God does rule. Our God loves us!

Prayer:  We thank You, Lord, that You reign over all Your creation. May we grant You entrance into our hear that You may also reign in our lives, too. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice. Psalm 97:1

Monday, September 20, 2021

God Will Judge!

Robert G. Ingersoll is recognized as one of the most influential agnostics who ever lived. One night in New York he was dramatically and forcefully giving a lecture that explained his doubts about judgment and hell. When the gifted lecturer finished his address, a man who was very drunk stumbled his way to the front of the auditorium and said in slobbering terms, “I sure hope you are right, Brother Bob. I sure hope you are right because I’m counting on that!” He wanted to be free to live as he pleased.

Few today want to think of God as a Judge. It is much more pleasant to think of Him as a loving, caring, compassionate and gracious Father - which He certainly is – than one who will “judge the world by His standards of right-ness.” Many would apologize for considering their God in such terms – one who would act in the role of “Judge.”

There are many who want to fashion Him after their own likes and dislikes and endow Him with the nature and character they would like Him to possess. They want to make Him consistent with their own wishful thinking so that they will be comfortable in their sins. Their god has the attributes of our God in that He is compassionate and loving but they refuse to accept the fact that His character also contains wrath and justice. This would mean that there would be no judgment and no punishment for wrongs people do to others and His Creation. However, our God is a Righteous God and demands right living.

But our God, Who is a righteous God and demands that we “live right,” is also a loving and accepting God and will forgive us when we fail Him if we ask Him for His mercy. 

Prayer:  Help us, Lord, to live in the light of Your love as well as Your judgment. May we live as You would have us to live so we will one day hear, “Well done!” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his faithfulness. Psalm 96:13

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Worthy Of Praise

Bud Wilkerson, a nationally respected football coach, was once asked by a reporter, “Coach, how much has football contributed to the nation’s desire to be physically fit?”

Looking at the reporter, he said, “Nothing - not one thing.”

Surprised, the reporter asked, “Would you care to elaborate on that?”

“Certainly,” said Wilkerson. “I define football as twenty-two men on a field desperately needing rest and forty-thousand people in the stands desperately needing exercise.”

The writer of Psalm 96 must have thought the same way the coach did. “For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise.” Here the Psalmist is talking about those who are in the stands cheering and shouting about God’s greatness. But before the cheering were those who took God’s message of hope to the lost and searching - those who were on the “field” were involved in a battle for the souls around them - the “players”- who were “declaring God’s glory and marvelous deeds” and “sharing and proclaiming His salvation!”

John R. Stott once said, “If a man has religion, he must do one of two things with it. If it is false, he must give it up. And if it is true, he must give it away.”

Imagine how loud the shouts would be in church if we had more people on the field battling for the lives of the lost and wandering? We must “play” harder if we want cheers.

Prayer:  We pray, Father, that we may work more seriously with You to reach the lost. Renew our strength for the battles we face and give us victory. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise. Psalm 96:4a

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Showing His Salvation

“Brother,” said St. Francis of Assisi to a young monk who had just entered the monastery, “let’s go to town and preach.” They left the monastery and walked to the town and did not say a word to each other or the people they passed by in the marketplace. After several hours they retraced their steps and returned to the monastery.

The young monk wondered what was going on.  After waiting for what seemed like an eternity, he finally broke his silence and asked, “I thought we were going to town to preach to the people. Why didn’t we stop and preach?”

“But we have been preaching,” replied St. Francis. “As we walked, we were observed: people watched our manners, our faces, our behavior, and our clothes; and what they saw and observed represented what we stood for. We have been preaching.”

All of us “preach” all the time. Our behavior is our message and our places of interest become our pulpits. Our lives are lectures, and our pursuits are examples of our priorities. People watch us even as we watch them. And each time we pass from view and our words can no longer be heard, our sermons end. But a decision has been made about our values and what we believe is important. Our sermon is what we said and did. 

The problem we face today is not the quantity of Christians but the quality of their lives. And if we want to win more, we must be more. How different would the world be if when we “declared God’s glory and goodness,” we also “lived God’s love and grace.” How we live our lives is more important than the words we speak.

Prayer:  Lord, give us an awareness that we are “preaching” Your message by what we do. May our lives represent who You are. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Proclaim his salvation day after day. Psalm 96:2b