“Don’t worry about the sweet by-and-by,” said the president of the university I attended years ago. “That will be here soon enough. God has promised it and that’s all we need to know. As sure as God has kept His Word in the past He will honor it today, tomorrow and every day, from now until the sweet by-and-by is here. What we need to worry about is the nasty now-and-now.”
That goes with the phrase we often hear: “Some people are so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good.”
While being concerned about and planning for the future makes good sense, we need to be much more concerned about what we might do every moment of every hour of every day to honor God. With that thought in mind, David said, “But I call to God, and the Lord saves me. Evening, morning and at noon I cry out in distress and He hears my voice.”
Notice his priorities: He would not retire at night without going to God in prayer, asking for His forgiveness, peace and protection so he might rest well and be at ease with God. Nor would he begin his day without asking God to guide him and guard him and give him His power and protection. And then – right in the middle of the day – he would stop everything and go to his Lord in prayer. He needed His help in the “now!”
Prayer, for David, was not a trivial ritual. It was his life – his source of strength. “I cry out...He hears!”
Prayer: May we, like David, Lord, recognize our need for prayer. Let it become the centerpiece of our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 55:16-17 As for me, I call to God, and the Lord saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice.
Fast food restaurants and high speed internet access have conditioned us to rush our way through life. We resent deeply having to stand in a grocery line, wait for someone to answer a phone call or return a message. If it isn’t instant, it isn’t worth “my” time.
But there is value in waiting on some things. Especially for God to work in our lives. It was for David. It certainly is for us.
“I waited patiently for the Lord,” he said. We do not know what David was waiting for or the problems he was facing. It may be that this time of waiting for a response from God was different from the other times he looked to God for help. But it does not matter. There are many instances in the Psalms when he called on God and He responded immediately and rescued him. But this time, however, was different. He not only waited – but he waited patiently. His anxiety did not overpower him. His needs or wants were not driving him to distraction or irrational behavior. No, his mind was focused on God’s love, grace, mercy and wisdom. From times past he knew God would respond.
And the results of his patience were, as we would say today, unreal. “He turned to me...He heard me...He lifted me...He set my feet on a rock...He gave me a firm place to stand!” From adversity to abundance!
In humility and submissiveness he waited for God. He knew that God had the answer that was in his best interest: God wanted to “make him a man after My own heart.”
Prayer:May we learn from David, Lord, to wait on You patiently, knowing that You are at work in us, for us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 40:1 I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry.
Waiting, at best, is difficult. Giving up however can be disastrous.
We often hear the warning, “Don’t ever pray for patience. God may take you at your word and hide from you for a long, long time.” Whether or not we pray for patience, we often end up waiting on God for a long, long time. It is easy to convince ourselves that “I’ve waited long enough. It’s time for me to strike out on my own. God will eventually catch up with me.”
“We wait in hope for the Lord,” said David, “He is our help and shield!” Why would a king with armies and wise men, property and power advise people to wait? Why not, as a warrior, “move into combat?”
From his past David could predict his future. First, the God who created all things is above all things, sees all things, controls all things and, when it is time, come and “do His thing.” David had experienced God at work in his life and certainly came to believe in God’s presence and power in his life. So, he reassures us and reminds us that He “is now and will be in the future our helper and our shield.”
As our helper, He will, at the appropriate time, deliver us. We may not know when or understand what method of deliverance He will use, but we do know that He will deliver those who trust in Him. We have His word because it is in His Word. However, until He does come and deliver us, we are reminded that He is our shield – the One who will defend us. Our hope is in His hands.
Prayer:Give us, O Lord, a confident faith that will not fail as we wait on You, our helper and shield. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 33:20 We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.
The second grade teacher stood before her noisy class, raised her voice and shouted, “I want you to be so quiet that you can hear a pin drop!”
Silence suddenly prevailed. When Danny could no longer contain himself, he shouted, “Let ‘er drop!”
It’s not unusual to have an attitude like that toward God. We pray and wait. Then pray again. Then wait a little longer. Still, nothing happens. It seems as though we are waiting for “the pin to drop.”
Psalm 28 begins with the “silence of God.” In fact, He is so silent that the Psalmist becomes impatient and shouts, “If you don’t answer soon, I will be like those going down to their grave – abandoned!”
The subtle message from David was that if God did not answer his prayer his enemies would rejoice. “They,” he reminds God, “care nothing for what You have done or what Your hands have made.” In other words, “God, I don’t want You to be embarrassed. I don’t want people to ridicule You. I’ve laid my life and Your reputation on the line and if You are silent, if You let me down, they will believe that You are untrustworthy!”
David was not afraid to present his case to God and demand help. He did not want “unbelievers” to look at his situation and say, “I told you so. Your God is no more dependable than ours. He’s not even listening!”
Not so. David looked at them and said, “I praise the Lord! For He has heard my cry for mercy.” David prayed. God answered. And everyone saw God “at work.”
Prayer: Father, when You seem silent may our faith never falter knowing that You will hear, help and heal. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 28:6 Praise be to the LORD, for he has heard my cry for mercy.
Little Martha was in a hurry to run out the door so she would not be late for school. In her haste she tripped and fell, hitting her head on the floor. Immediately, a bump appeared and frightened her. As the tears ran down her cheeks she climbed into her mother’s arms to be comforted.
Her Mom, holding her tightly, placed a cold pad on the lump and said, “Let’s pray and ask Jesus to heal you so you can go to school.”
Soon the tears stopped, Martha left her mother’s lap, stood up and said, “Jesus healed me. Now I can go to school.”
That night when they knelt to pray the mother asked, “What do you want to thank Jesus for tonight.”
“My bump,” answered Martha quickly. “Because now I know He loves me because He made my bump go away.”
“Whenever trouble comes your way,” wrote James, “let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested your endurance has an opportunity to grow.” In the life of every Christian, there is always a connection between the problem and the promise, between the hardship and the hope.
James reminds us to turn our difficulties into optimism and to have a positive outlook for life. Troubles are not an end in themselves. If we are willing to work with God, He can teach us perseverance.
Prayer:May we understand and accept, Father, that “whatever comes our way” is for our good and that we can profit from every hardship as we learn to trust You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: James 1:2-3 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle studied to be a physician. After completing his studies he established a medical partnership with a friend. It did not go well and they soon parted ways.
Shortly afterward, he opened his own practice. Initially he had very few patients and to pass away the long, boring days he began to write factious crime stories. His first writings were not well received. But since he had empty hours to fill, he continued to write.
Two of his characters were Sherlock Holmes and Watson. His stories were framed around much of the information he learned while a medical student, and it was his use of “differential diagnosis” in his writings that brought much of the intrigue to his works. It did not take long before his stories gained much attention and his writing career was established.
It may be intriguing for some to wonder why he did not go directly into writing crime stories rather than the field of medicine. Certainly that was an option. But it was his understanding of “differential diagnosis” that made his crime stories different and brought him success.
Often we wonder why we are sometimes called to go through “things” that seem foolish and worthless, boring and frustrating. But God has a plan for each of us and we must be patient with Him until He reveals it.
Prayer:Help us, Father, to be patient and open while You are preparing us for our life’s work. May we do our best to develop our talents carefully and wisely for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
When I was a child, I was fascinated by my father’s garden. Each spring we would plant little seeds that would grow into large plants that produced all types of vegetables. One day I decided to plant my own garden.
Carefully I “turned” the soil and placed the same seeds that my father planted in straight rows separated with room enough for them to grow. Then I went into our house and watched my garden through the window of my bedroom. Every morning and evening I would visit the garden to look for some sign that would assure me that my garden was growing.
Finally, in desperation for some sign that my garden was “working” just like my dad’s, I dug up the seeds to see what was going on. To my surprise I discovered that they were still seeds. I had faith and hope, but no patience.
Sometimes during the difficult periods of life we sow seeds in the garden of prayer and water them with times of meditation, faith and hope. But we lose patience with God and do not give Him enough time to do His work. His Word reminds us, “When the way is rough, your patience has a chance to grow.”
Prayer:Help us, Lord, to wait on You for lessons in patience that we all need to learn. Only then will we be strong enough to face the challenges of life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: 2 Peter 1:1-7 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.
A king called his wise men together and commanded them to identify the world's greatest truth. Once they agreed on what this truth was, they were to inscribe it in his ring. He wanted one truth that would provide him guidance and give him hope and help for every situation he faced and each case he had to decide.
Many months later the wise men came back with the words they chose for the inscription: “This too shall pass.”
It is significant that the phrase “It came to pass” occurs 457 times in the Bible. Those words are echoed by the
Psalmist when he wrote, “God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.”
We sometimes become involved in situations that are beyond our strength and exceed our courage. We awaken one day to realize that what we thought would never end or bring us unending happiness, has evaporated into the air. We become discouraged by the endless wars, devastating earthquakes, destructive hurricanes, uncontrollable prices and see no end in sight. No night is so dark nor day so cloudy that cancels the hope that “This too shall pass.”
Prayer:Lord, help us to understand the power of Your love, the goodness of Your grace, the extent of Your mercy and Your readiness to help. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.
What is the first thing you do each morning? The author of Pilgrim’s Progress said that “He who runs from God in the morning will scarcely find Him the rest of the day.” It is important that we go into the presence of God before we go into the presence of men.
A woman attended a concert and realized the next morning that she has lost a diamond earring the night before. She called the manager of the auditorium and asked if it had been found. He said, “If you stay on the line, I’ll check.” A search was made and the diamond found. When he returned to the phone, the woman had hung up. How like many of us when we pray. We do not expect anything to happen when we pray so we give up on God.
David said, “In the morning will I direct my prayer unto Thee and will look up.” He was saying, “I will pray and then I will wait for answers and directions.” If we begin every day with God, we will end up with His blessings!
Prayer:Lord, when I begin my day I know it is important to ask for Your guidance and grace and to seek wisdom from Your Word. May I look to You for Your wisdom in every decision I make and direction in every path I take. In Your Name. Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 5:3 In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.
Fishing often seems futile and foolish. There may be long periods of time when the only progress to be seen is the movement of the hands on a clock. While some would say it is a great way to relax and think, others would say it is ridiculous and unjustifiable in this fast paced world.
And there are many who consider prayer much that way. Why wait for the Lord to hear our prayers when we can get by on our own? The Psalmist gave us a good reason to wait: “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in His Word I put my hope.”
Waiting on the Lord is profitable and productive. It is the best way to become efficient and effective. How? The person who does not wait on the Lord may be going places - but they may not be the right places. Often we move forward in haste and end up in a place other than what we had in mind. Often the consequences of rushing ahead of God results in destroying the plan He has laid out for us. Do you remember the wise bumper sticker that read, “Don’t follow me. I’m lost.”?
Waiting on the Lord is the way to empowerment. If we do not wait on the Lord, it may lead to exhaustion. Our Lord is adequate to meet our every need but there are times when we must wait on Him for whatever our need may be. We must wait on Him if we want His goodness and guidance, His wisdom and wealth, His healing and happiness.
The Psalmist said, “In His Word I put my hope.” In Hebrews we read, “We have this hope as an anchor.”
Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for reminding us of our need to place our hope in You. Grant us the gift of trust. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 130:5 I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.