The school of suffering has many graduates. It seems that most of the alumni provide insight into the grace and mercy of God for those willing to hear them speak and give Him glory. 

King David was a graduate of this school. What he learned about suffering is revealed in the sixth Psalm. He begins by describing his pain and the fear he has of his enemies. He shares with us a list of symptoms that most of us have experienced at one time or another: emotional stress and distress, crying, sleepless nights, being attacked by others. However, when he cried out to God for help, God heard him, helped him, and healed him. 

Whatever brought about the distress of David was relieved when he called on God for His mercy. Here we find a pattern for us to follow when we need God to rescue us from the consequences of our sin or the pain of sickness or suffering. First, he asked God not to abandon or punish him in his time of need. Then he asked for God’s compassion and care, admitting that he was weak, “sick at heart” and could not handle the situation by himself. He described his weeping as so intense that “my bed is wet with tears.” He was remorseful for what he had done and what God might do to punish him – if He chose. So, he cried out for God’s “unfailing love” knowing that God heard him and could then declare with confidence: “The Lord has heard my crying and my plea (and) the Lord will answer my prayer.” 

God always hears and answers the prayers of anyone at any time who asks for His forgiveness and mercy. There are no limits to His love nor conditions for His grace. 

Prayer: We thank You, Lord, for Your willingness to accept us as we are and grant us Your help, healing, and hope we desperately need yet could never earn. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture For Today: The Lord has heard my plea; the Lord will answer my prayer. Psalm 6:9

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Each time I walk through a book store I make it a point to visit the “self-help” section. It never ceases to amaze me at the large amount of space this particular category of books occupies. Over 1,500,000 different titles are available in the United States, and the amount of money spent on them exceeded $13,900,000.00.
In 1859 Samuel Smiles published a book entitled, Self-help, and an industry designed to provide self-help, self-improvement, problem-solving, and confidence-building was born. But, this was not the beginning of this movement. The Egyptians receive some credit for this area of knowledge as well as The Book of Proverbs.
However, there’s one very important difference between Proverbs and the other sources available for hope and help: The Book of Proverbs comes with a guarantee from God. The others do not, even cannot, guarantee anything. Only a guarantee that comes from God can be trusted.
“For the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared.” Confidence does not come from formulas or mental exercises, nor a plan or a program. It comes from the only One who can empower us to become and do things that are beyond our imagination. Whatever God wants us to do, He will, through His power, enable us to do it.
Confidence does not come from within - it comes from God. When we apply His “discernment and sound judgment,” His presence and power are available for us.
Prayer: Lord, may we seek the wisdom of Your Word and reject the foolishness of those who live in darkness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 3:26 For the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared. 
Fear often leads to defeat and disaster. It is a friend of inertia and instability. It supports dependency and will keep the most competent individual from taking the first step to achieve a lifelong goal. Fear is real, and many will allow it to stifle and suffocate their dreams.
What, then, is there to replace fear? Is it education? Could it be moving from one address to another? Might it be new friends? Can a different job or title replace a lack of self-confidence? Do our self-imposed limits cause our inner-being to retreat? Is there a defense for fear?
A king was being pursued by his enemies. He was weak, but they were strong. He stood by himself, and their numbers were staggering. But, he had something, one thing that they did not have: Faith. It was the part of the equation that made the difference.
Listen to him describe his situation: “Though an army besieges me, my heart will not fear; though war breaks out against me, even then will I be confident.” Faith calls upon Him who is invisible to accomplish things that are visible for us, through us and with us. Faith will turn horrible situations into outstanding conditions.
Confronted by overwhelming odds, David prayed, “Do not turn me over to my enemies.” He knew that his life was in God’s hands and that God could do with him as He pleased. But, he did not lose faith in God. His trust was absolute. And in his darkest moment, his confidence shone brilliantly: “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart.” Anyone who trusts in Him, will always win.
Prayer: Lord, as we wait for Your strength, guard us; do not let fear control us or the size of the enemy defeat us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Psalm 27:3 Though an army besieges me, my heart will not fear; though war breaks out against me, even then will I be confident. 
Fear is a gift from God. It is actually one of God’s greatest gifts. It alerts us to dangers that may be lurking in dark alleys. It awakens us at night when we hear strange sounds that make no sense. It causes us to take precautions to avoid accidents. It summons our senses when things are out of “the ordinary.” It’s God’s “early warning system” that notifies us that something unusual or unique is about to happen. Fear, after all is said and done, is necessary for us to survive.
Some fears are helpful, some are harmful. Dr. Samuel Johnson, for example, would never step into a room with his left foot. He sincerely believed that something terrible would happen to him in that room if he “stuck” his left foot in first. Julius Caesar was terrified by the sound of thunder and would hide. Even Peter the Great, with all of his power, cried out in fear when he was forced to cross a bridge. Those, we might say, are harmful fears.
David also had his fears. His friends forsook him, his confidants betrayed him and his family was not loyal to him. But he overcame all of his fears by his faith in the faithfulness of God. “When I am afraid,” he said, “I will trust in You – In my God, whose Word I praise.” He was not fear free. He was faith focused.
When doubts surfaced and threats surrounded him, when times were uncertain and days filled with dangers, he always turned to God in faith knowing that God had His hands over him and His arms around him.
Prayer: Remove our unfounded fears, Father. May we learn to trust in You as our protector and defender. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 56:3-4a When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise — in God I trust and am not afraid. 
“I really need help. I don’t even know how to explain it. Many people think my problems are insignificant and quite trivial. I can even understand that. I know some people that have been through so much more than me who have survived and have lived to tell their story. I really, really need help but don’t know what to do or who to turn to.” So went the story.
There are times in each of our lives, no doubt, when we have made similar statements or cried words that echoed the same desperate feelings. We were defeated by the demands of life and felt desperate and empty with no strength to go on. Our words were inadequate or unavailable to share our misery. And, if we were able to “get it out,” would anyone understand our fears and frustrations. And if they did, would they extend a helping hand or offer a listening ear?
Sometimes we are threatened by people we don’t even know. We hear of their attacks through the warnings of others and know they want to hurt us. Sometimes we know who our oppressors are yet can do nothing to eliminate the power they have over us.
David found himself in a similar situation. He looked around for help and deliverance and found no one ready to help him. But he knew that there was saving power in the name of God and cried out, “Surely God is my help; the Lord is the One Who sustains me.”
Often God brings us to a place in our lives to force us to realize that He alone is the ultimate Savior!
Prayer: What a joy it is to know, Father, that You will never leave us or forsake us or let any enemy destroy us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 54:4 Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me.
The sale of self-help books has soared since the year 2006 when sales reached nine billion dollars. The 11 billion dollar industry is expected to grow by 5.5% every year. The endless pages offering advice on “how to improve one’s life,” however, do not seem to be making a dent in solving man’s most basic problem: a sinful nature.
David offered an alternative to “self-help.” He wisely encouraged us to seek “God-help.”
“Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this; He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noon day sun!” Confident living, for the Christian, really has a very simple formula: first commit and then trust.
Commit, on the one hand, means that we are “to completely and unreservedly rely in and on Him.” He is not only our Savior but the Lord of our lives. Trust, on the other hand, means that we have a live and vibrant expectation that He alone is capable of leading, guiding, guarding and directing each step in our lives. We look in His Word to find His way. Committing and trusting in Him alone allows us to move from self-help to God-help.
And the result will be obvious to us and others. We will radiate the righteousness of God by living a life that reflects His beauty and holiness. There is also the “integrity” element in our lives. Whatever we do will be empowered by the Holy Spirit because of our “right-living.”
Prayer: Give us courage, Father, to look only to You to be our “Helper” – to live life according to Your book. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 37:5 Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun. 
If the two options we have in life are faith or fear, then we can come to enjoy and take comfort in the peace we have in a living God as our light, salvation and hope. If we do not have a hope that comes from the Lord, we are condemned to a life of anguish as we move toward our final hours on earth.
Bertrand Russell said, “The older I get the more nervous I become.” In contrast to his fear is the faith we see in Pope John XXIII. Two weeks before his death he said, “My bags are packed. I’m ready to go!”
David had an unusual boldness as he faced life and death. “Though a mighty army surrounds me, my heart will not be afraid. Even if I am attacked, I will remain confident.” Even though he is confronted by an army or fighting to win a war or survive with his very life, he says that “I am confident.” Confident of what? His well-trained troops? His superior skills as a leader?
Indeed not. His confidence was in his Lord who was his light, salvation and hope. The word David uses for confidence in this verse means to feel secure or to be unconcerned. His confidence, the security he enjoyed, when facing the uncertainties of life and the certainty of death, was in the Lord Himself.
David’s passion was to live in the Lord’s house and to behold His beauty forever. Living in the Lord’s house means much more than being an occasional visitor. It implies being a resident now and in eternity. To behold His beauty means to enjoy God’s goodness and blessings – today, tomorrow and through eternity.
Prayer: How blest we are, Father, to know that faith in You gives us hope for this life and the one to come. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 27:3 Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident.
Danny was kneeling next to his bed saying his prayers. Hands folded, eyes shut, his mother heard him praying: “Lord, my brother still doesn’t have a job and he sure needs one. And my sister, Ruth, she hasn’t had a date for a long time and she’s getting pretty old. And you know about Mon – she’s no better and may have to go back to the hospital. And Dad hasn’t gotten the promotion his boss promised him. You know, God, I’m really getting tired of praying for my family and not getting any results. Have you quit listening to me?”
Ever feel like Danny? No doubt most of us have.
Thank God for John’s insight: “And we can be confident that He will listen to us whenever we ask Him for anything in line with His will. And if we know He is listening when we make our requests, we can be sure that He will give us what we ask for.”
John’s emphasis here is on God’s will – not our wants. And there is a dramatic difference between the two. Too often when we take our requests to the Lord they do not fit His will for our lives. We ask selfishly and do not take into consideration how what we want may differ from what we need to be and what He has designed for us to do. We need to align our requests with His will. The ultimate test of any prayer is: Lord, give me this for Your sake in Your name for Your will.
Prayer: Lord, help us to understand how to pray and what to pray for. May we accept the delays knowing that Your will is much better than our wants. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: 2 Corinthians 9:7 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.
Not far from my home was a lengthy covered bridge. My first visit was a frightening experience. Before we drove through the bridge my uncle stopped just inside of the entrance. Looking behind me I saw the large opening and the glowing sunlight. But when I looked before me, I said, “Look out, Uncle Ed. You can drive in but you won’t be able to get out because the hole at the other end is too small for the car.”
I soon discovered that I was wrong. When we drove out of the bridge, the “hole” at the end of the bridge was bigger than I thought it was and the problem was solved.
Sometimes life is like that. The “little hole” we look through may seem small and insufficient for our passage. The darkness surrounds us and the light is not bright enough for us to see our way clear. Doubts and fears overwhelm us.
Yet as we face the fears and doubts with the Lord’s help we can get through them. As we read in Proverbs, “The way of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, which shines ever brighter until the full light of day.”
In the Bible, light stands for wisdom and righteousness. When we are surrounded by darkness and there is little light to give us a sense of where God is leading us, we must stand fast and trust in His wisdom and know that because of His righteousness we are safe. As we learn to trust in His Word, we will gain confidence in Him and the journey He has prepared for us. We will learn that where He is leading us and what He is doing with us and through us is in keeping with His will for us. Although it may be difficult for us to believe that the “full light of day” is coming, we have the promises in His Word that it will.
Prayer: Give us the faith, Father, to believe that we are safe and secure as long as we trust in You and follow the directions You have given us in Your Word to follow in our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Proverbs 4:18 But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.
Character breeds confidence. When we cannot have complete confidence in others, doubts arise and questions surface. We worry and wonder, watch and wait for things to go wrong. We sense an uneasiness and do not know what to expect. Perhaps that is why Solomon wrote, “Her husband has full confidence in her (this wife of noble character) and lacks nothing of value.”
“Full confidence” is a broad, sweeping term and covers all of the activities in a home. It includes raising children, managing the family’s finances, the reputation of the family - whatever is included in developing the image of the family in the community. Everything is included in the term “full confidence.”
“Full confidence” is a remarkable term because it is the same term that is used or applied to the term “confidence in the Lord.” Throughout the entire Old Testament it is only used twice in reference to having “confidence” in another person.
This value of having such “confidence” in one’s wife is important because it frees up the husband to become involved in occupational, civic and religious duties. The husband of a “wife of noble character” can commit himself to what God has called him to do because his household is in good, competent and safe hands.
Notice, too, that the husband “lacks nothing of value.” The home is in “good hands” and the “resources,” whether financial, reputation or character will increase.
Prayer: Lord, there is a great need in Kingdom work for wives to know You, love You and serve You faithfully. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Proverbs 31:11 Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.

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