Throughout Scripture the "heart" is used as the center of a person’s being. It describes the heart as the personality or inner life or character of a person 257 times. It states that the heart is the center of a person’s emotional state or consciousness 166 times. It presents the heart as the source of intellectual activities 204 times and this includes what we pay attention to or reflect on during our quiet moments or what makes sense to us as we consider the things that cross our paths or what enters our minds. It also speaks of the heart as the source that gives us purpose or direction in life 195 times.
We must never overlook the importance of "the heart."
Certainly the author of Psalm 78 had this in mind. As he reflected on the trials and tragedies of the Israelites, he called attention to the fact that the preceding generations did not put their trust in God and forgot the gracious gifts He gave them. He encouraged them to obey God's laws and not be like their forefathers.
And how were they to do this? What was his "prescription" for them? They were to have "hearts that were loyal to God and spirits that were faithful to Him."
Wisely, this psalmist gave a warning to his listeners. And, thankfully, God passed it on to us in His Word.
Someone once said to me, "Larry, learn from what sin has done in the lives of others. If you do, you will be blessed of God and able to enjoy the best He has to offer."
Surely this is the right moment for each of us to look deep within our "hearts" and be sure that God is in the very center and that we are loyal to God!
Prayer:We are grateful, Father, for the warnings Your Word gives us. May we follow Your guidance each day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 78:8 Then they will not be like their ancestors— stubborn, rebellious, and unfaithful, refusing to give their hearts to God.
At seventy-five Grandma Faith learned that cancer would soon take her home to heaven. She had been a faith-filled Christian all of her life. Realizing that her time with her family on this earth would soon be over, she called all of them together. After they gathered around her bed she said in a calm, steady and joyful voice, “For many years I’ve shown you how to live like a Christian. Now I want to show you how to die like one!”
Life after life was important to Paul. He planned for it, prepared for it and personally looked forward to the time when he would be with his Lord. From the day he met his Savior, his values changed and his view of things on earth was different. Not only did he see life from an eternal perspective but the only thing he wanted others to do was to see life the way he did: through the eyes of the risen Christ.
His faith enabled him to confidently say that dying would be even better than living. He knew that only those who were ready to die could face life confidently and fearlessly. He realized that in death he would be removed from the problems and pains of this life and finally be with his beloved Savior for evermore.
Reading his words in Philippians is a testimony to his faith: he wanted others to see what he looked and longed for after his earthly life: “For me, living is living for Christ and dying is even better.”
Prayer:We look to You, Heavenly Father, for faith for today, hope for tomorrow and purpose in between. Fill us with love for You and the lost whose lives are in our hands. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Philippians 1:20-26 – For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
Years ago I fulfilled one of my lifelong dreams when I visited Yellowstone National Park. Many told me of the majesty and power of the geysers as they exploded into the air, sending steam and spray skyward.
The geyser that fascinated me the most was not the largest geyser nor the tallest geyser nor did it spout water higher than the other geysers. It is the world’s most famous geyser: Old Faithful! It is famous because of its faithfulness.
There are times when we envy others for the skills and talents that God has given them. We resent them for the things that they can do and the things we cannot do. We become angry with God for blessing them more than we think He has blest us. We become filled with jealousy and bitterness and believe that God has “His favorites.” Not true! He gives us each of the talents we need to do what He has designed for us to do. It is not about favorites but about faithfulness.
In the end, it’s never about favorites but about faithfulness. It is always about doing what God has called us to do to honor and glorify Him!
Prayer:We ask, Father, that no matter what You call us to be or do, we will remain faithful to You forever. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Revelation 2:10 Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
Ernesto Malinowski was a builder of railroads in South America. He was once a member of a group that was asked about the possibility of building a railroad through the Andes Mountains in Peru. After several lengthy discussions and heated debates, all of the engineers gave up except one: seventy-two year old Malinowski. His enthusiasm and energy prevailed because he believed in the impossible.
When completed the project included sixty-two tunnels, thirty bridges and was stopped twice because of wars. By Malinowski’s refusal to quit, he motivated a group of fellow believers who followed his passion and overcame every obstacle and problem. Through his leadership, commitment and faith made it possible to transport the natural resources of the inland cities to the coastal cities and shipped around the world.
Standing firm in our loyalty to Christ is often difficult and at times, discouraging. However, we need to remind ourselves of the words written in Hebrews that when we “are exposed to public ridicule...trust in the Lord and remember the great reward it will bring.”
God’s rewards will come as a result of our endurance and faithfulness.
Prayer:Help us, Father, to stand firm in our faith and to be God-honoring and Christ exalting in all that we do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Hebrews 10:32-36 Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward.
A six-year-old child was trapped in a bedroom on the second floor of a home that was engulfed in flames. He was frightened and did not know what to do.
He ran to a window and used all of his strength to open it. But he failed. Then he climbed on a dresser, broke the window and shouted for help. Though he could not be heard, his father saw him. There was no way he could get back into the house, climb the steps and rescue him. The flames continued to burn intensely.
When a neighbor saw the dangerous situation, he ran to the home, leaned against the side of it and encouraged an onlooker to climb on his shoulders. Then another climbed on top of his shoulders until there were enough, one standing on the shoulders of another, until they reached the window. They were finally able to force open the window and rescue the child. When he reached manhood, he identified himself as a “brand plucked out of a fire.” John Wesley grew to become one of the most famous preachers of all time and the founder of Methodism.
God spared Wesley’s life and then called him into a life of ministry. Few of us will ever go through an experience as he did. Yet, all of us are called to serve the Lord. Each day that our Creator gives us is to worship, honor and serve Him in all that we do. We are not called to be famous but faithful.
Prayer:Help us, Heavenly Father, to realize that each day is a God-given day to love, honor and serve You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Zechariah 3:2 And the Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?”
During World War II all Americans were cautious and vigilant about the things they said and did. They did not want to give the enemy any opportunity to gain an advantage that could harm our country.
One of the slogans was “Your resolution will bring us victory!” Being resolute - or determined, and not wavering in one’s opinion, purpose or position - was one of the most quoted. It was a rallying cry that people took to heart because they could not entertain the possibility of defeat.
No wonder Solomon wrote, “She watches over the affairs of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.” He knew the alternative of being slothful and compromising, inconsistent and careless, was disaster. “Watching” is a full-time responsibility and an important priority for those God calls to be a “faithful household administrator.” No matter what other tasks or duties are part of her “job description,” this “wife of noble character” never allows her attention to become diluted or her mind to be diverted to less important items than her household. She is thoroughly absorbed in the things that matter most.
“Idleness” does not imply that this “wife” would be one who watches “soaps” or spends her time foolishly “tweeting” or on Facebook. Not at all. It refers to a “wife” who believes strongly in the fact that whatever she has is a result of her faithfulness to her calling as a wife. She has joyously and graciously fulfilled her obligations as wife, mother, household administrator and witness of the Love of God to all whom He brings into her life.
She is deserving of all of the blessings and benefits of God that she has received because of her untiring faithfulness to God and her fidelity to her husband, children and community.
Prayer:Father, we join our hearts and pray that You will bless those noble wives who serve You with distinction! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Proverbs 31:27 She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Memories are a gift from God. However, what we do with them, how they affect us or the difference they have on our way of living is what matters most.
When we recall the many gifts that God grants to us each day, do we take enough time to pause and thank Him and share the fact of His love, grace and mercy with family and friends?
When He brings healing and wellness to us and our loved ones, do we give Him the credit He deserves or do we think that He is obligated to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves?
When our financial needs are met and we have a surplus, do we give a “thank you offering” and praise Him for blessing us and giving us more than we deserve?
“A faithful man will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished,” is a proverb worth noting carefully. God does indeed bless those who are faithful - often much more than can be imagined or deserved. Unfortunately, there are those who believe they have earned what they have accumulated and therefore do not need to give God credit or praise. How sad.
We have what we have because of God’s grace. Whatever we have is a result of Him showing us His favor. The strength and abilities I have come from Him and the opportunities I have to use them come from Him. If we use them to “get rich” without recognizing it’s all because of Him, we can expect a tragic ending.
Prayer:We pray, Father, for grateful hearts. May we never cease to recognize Your goodness and faithfulness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Proverbs 28:20 A faithful person will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished.
Unfortunately, there is usually a gap between what some of us say and what we do. We, for whatever reason, are much more willing to make a promise than keep it. Perhaps we want others to think more highly of us than we actually are. So, we say, “I’ll be happy to do this or help you with that or count on me to be there when you need me.” End of conversations and promise!
“Many a man claims to have unfailing love, but a faithful man, who can find?” There seems to be a sadness in this proverb that suggests a sense of disappointment in the heart of Solomon. Whether someone had betrayed him or failed to keep their word is not known. But what we do know is that he contrasts the gap between words and deeds, saying and doing. There is an obvious difference between love professed and promised and love described and delivered.
The word “faithful” in this verse is the same word used when the writer spoke of God’s faithfulness to honor His word in the promises He made to the nation of Israel. It also speaks of the love God expects from us when we say that we love Him and will be faithful to Him. When we say, “Father I love You” - might it bring into God’s mind the later part of our verse: “But can I trust you to keep your word?”
This part of the verse obviously pained Solomon. It forces me to wonder what betrayal he might have experienced from his wife or children, friends or confidants. Words are inexpensive but actions always cost something to the one who upholds or honors what he promises.
How blest we are to understand what faithfulness is all about because of our relationship with a loving, heavenly Father!
Prayer: Thank You, Father, for Your love and the promise that You will never leave us nor forsake us. Thank You for Your care. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Proverbs 20:6 Many claim to have unfailing love, but a faithful person who can find?
Several weeks ago I was waiting in line for my “pre-op room” assignment. It was a time of anxiety and fear, apprehension and uncertainty. The surgeon had carefully laid out the risks as well as the rewards. All of the tests and examinations confirmed that my physical condition was strong and able to withstand the lengthy procedure.
When it was my turn to speak with the scheduler, I noticed that she had a well-worn Bible in her kiosk next to her computer keyboard. “It’s good to see you reading the Bible. Obviously you must love the Lord. What are you reading today?” I asked.
“Yes, Sir. I surely do love the Lord. He’s my best Friend. And this morning I am reading Psalm 91 and I’m meditating on verse two: ‘I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress.’”
Suddenly the God of all comfort appeared and spoke to me through one of His angels. What an unexpected message from God. As I stood before her, tears streamed down my face and splashed on my medical records while her words comforted my heart and put my soul at ease.
The words “refuge” and “fortress” are normally used in a military context. As used here they convey a special significance. God is in control and has established Himself in a defensive position against all enemies. Moreover, the Psalmist says that He is “My God!” assuring us that He is personal, present and prepared to protect us from any and all enemies. Because of His faithfulness in the past, we have no reason to ever doubt His presence and protection.
Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for the comfort of Your Word, the assurance of Your grace when we face life’s challenges. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 91:2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
He was late for church and slipped quietly into his regular place for Sunday morning worship. He listened as the pastor prayed: “We have left undone those things we ought to have done, and we have done those things we ought not to have done.” After a moment of silence he continued, “You know, Lord, I believe I’ve found my kind of people. I belong here.”
No one escapes failure but our Lord. Whatever He said He would do, He did. Whatever He has promised, He has or will fulfill - in the past, present and future.
The Bible contains about 5,000 promises. As the One who created the universe, all of its laws and living beings that are under His control and command, no one or no thing can stop Him from keeping His promises. “Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave,” said Solomon.
His compassion for His children never fails. His Son has experienced suffering and humiliation that is beyond us and has endured them with grace. So, He can be sympathetic with us in the deepest, darkest moments of our lives. Jeremiah reminds us that “His compassion never fails.”
Equally important is His faithfulness. He is not strong one day and weak the next, nor attentive one moment and indifferent the next. When He created us He did so with the knowledge that He would be faithful to us. Said the Psalmist, “I will not take my love from him, nor will I ever betray my faithfulness!”
Prayer:We thank You, Father, that we can trust You to honor Your Word to guard us, guide us and give us hope. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 89:33 but I will not take my love from him, nor will I ever betray my faithfulness.