A pastor who served people in a ghetto was visiting a family that was going through a difficult time of making ends meet. As he got up to leave, he noticed an old well-worn Bible on a shelf. As he neared the door, he said, “I saw something in this room that has more value than any amount of money. I wonder if you will ever find it.”
A few days later while dusting the shelves, one of the children discovered the Bible. Taking it to her Dad she asked, “Could this have been what the preacher-man was talking about? Wonder if this is what he meant.”
Holding it very carefully he placed it on the table and took great care to open it. Then he looked down and noticed a verse that was underlined with a red pencil: “The law from Your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.”
He began to weep quietly as his wife and children sat silently around him. Finally, he was able to speak and said, “This is my mother’s Bible. Before she died, she gave it to me and asked me to read it every day and I promised her that I would. But, I let her down and I’ve let you - my family - down. Maybe God led us to this difficult place just so we would find this verse she underlined to help us.”
God works in many strange and subtle ways. He even brings times of difficulty and desperation into our lives to get our attention. He has never promised that our days would always be filled with sunshine and blue skies. But, He has promised that when we look to Him and His Word we will find salvation, hope and encouragement.
Prayer:Help us, Heavenly Father, to realize the wealth we will find in Your Word when we have nothing else left. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:72 The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.
“I wouldn’t go through my experience with cancer again for a million dollars,” said a friend to me recently. “But then again, I wouldn’t take some millions of dollars for it, either.”
Could it be that the most painful experiences in life are sometimes the most profitable? Is it not true that after we have struggled through one of the most difficult times in our lives we take a deep breath and say, “Thank You, Lord. That ended up as a great blessing! I sincerely appreciate Your presence and peace during the dark days and long nights. I would not have made it without You.”
“It is good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn Your decrees!” said the Psalmist after his ordeal.
As he struggled and strained with deep fears and high anxieties, he did not ask, “Why are these things happening to me?” Instead, he asked, “What can I learn from them?”
“Why” is often a useless word. Most of the problems we face or the difficult issues that challenge or confront us cannot be answered if we ask, “Why?” Asking a different question is usually more beneficial: “What, God, are You trying to teach me?” usually brings the best answers.
“A.J.” was considered to be a very successful leader. Nearly everyone looked up to him. He had answers to questions and insight to issues that others overlooked. One day he was in an accident and lost his sight. He did not ask, “Why Lord?” After realizing that his condition was permanent, he asked, “What can I do for You now, Lord?”
Prayer:We pray, Lord, that we will learn to ask, “What can I do for You with the ‘unusual gifts’ You give me?” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:71 It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.
A member of a tourist group noticed a shepherd carrying food to one of his sheep. He was very curious and asked, “What happened? Is one of your sheep having problems?”
“Yes,” came the reply. “I have a sheep with a broken leg.”
“What happened? Did he fall over a cliff? Did an animal bite him?” he asked.
“Oh, no,” said the shepherd. “I broke it.”
“My goodness,” said the tourist. “You broke your sheep’s leg on purpose? I thought that shepherds loved their sheep more than anything else. I’ve even heard stories about shepherds searching for a lost sheep all night long. How could you do such a thing? Were you angry? Don’t you love your sheep?”
“Of course I love my sheep,” replied the shepherd. “That’s why I broke its leg. This was a ‘wayward’ sheep. When it strayed from the flock it led other sheep with it. Something had to be done to preserve the life of this sheep and to prevent it from leading other sheep astray. I broke its leg and reset it to teach it obedience. Now, it waits for me to feed it and eats out of my hand. It will never leave me again and will stay by my side. Finally, it is obedient.”
There was a Psalmist who must have had an experience like the sheep in this story. In writing of his experience, he said, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey Your voice.” Suffering has a purpose.
Prayer:No one likes to hurt, Lord. Yet, we ask that You do whatever is necessary to keep us close to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:67 Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word.
One of the greatest musicians to ever lead any band was John Phillips Sousa. He followed the musical legacy of his father and achieved world acclaim as both a musician and writer of band music. Most people who have ever played in a band have played one of the many marches he wrote many of them becoming favorites of people around the world. Eventually, he became known as the "March King" and when his marches were played people could identify him as the composer.
Names were once used to identify a person’s place of origin or their vocation or occupation. They had a great deal of significance because they gave away so much information about a person. Today they have little significance and tell us little, if anything, important.
In the Bible, however, names had meaning and purpose and were selected very carefully. For example, when we read the different names that were given to God we soon realize that they were given to Him as a title to describe or recognize what He was doing for His children or something that He wanted to do for His own.
A beautiful example of this is found in Psalm 119:55. One of His very own had a very particular need and he needed help immediately! So, he prayed, “In the night, Lord, I remember Your name.” When we read the word “night” in the Bible it usually refers to a “time of distress.” Not wanting to be overcome by defeat he knew that his God was with him at that moment and that His power was available to keep him from defeat.
Prayer: Thank You, Father, that Your presence and power are available in nights of distress or days of delight. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:54 Your decrees are the theme of my song wherever I lodge.
Jim, the Chairman of the Deacons, had been ill for quite some time. His pastor had been very faithful in visiting him several times each week. Every time he visited him, he would read a passage of Scripture from his Bible and pray with him.
On this particular day he forgot his Bible and asked, “May I borrow your Bible, Jim?”
“Certainly. Son,” he shouted, “bring my favorite book. The Pastor wants to read something to me.”
Immediately his son appeared and handed the Pastor his “favorite book” - the TV Guide.
A Psalmist spoke of his favorite book with these words: “I can answer anyone who taunts me, for I trust in Your Word...never take Your word of truth from my mouth for I have put my hope in Your laws...I will obey Your laws for ever and ever.”
Notice the significance of what the Psalmist read: When he sought the “ultimate” truth he turned to the Word of God. No matter who challenged his beliefs he would answer them with God’s truth. In God’s Word we find the best way to live and the most comfortable way to die. It answers all of our questions, contains a solution for every one of our problems and a cure for all of our ills.
It also provides the reason for being optimistic. “I will walk, in freedom!” No bondage. No worries. No fears. No doubts. Nothing in this world can take away the gracious gifts God gives us if we accept His Word.
Prayer:How thankful we are, Father, for Your Word that contains a solution for every problem in our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:42 then I can answer anyone who taunts me, for I trust in your word.
Sitting across the desk from me were two heart-broken parents. They had followed the suggestions and recommendations of other parents on the best methods to raise children in a Christ-honoring home. However, their son had recently entered a recovery program for addicts.
“How did this happen?” the father asked me. I had been asked this question many times and each time I attempted to answer the question it become more difficult. After a moment’s pause I tried, to the best of my ability, to explain that in the process of addiction the early experiences seemed to solve problems for people and after the initial experiment with drugs, what once was a problem solver became a problem creator and the “fun” or pleasure once associated with the drug vanished with the joy.
Then I told them the fable of a honey bee that discovered a large jar of honey with no lid on it. So, it decided to enjoy the sweet nectar without the amount of work it normally took to get the “joy of sweetness.” As it reveled in the honey its wings slowly became glued together and there it was - dying. The promise of pleasure ended up in the grip of death.
A Psalmist warned us of this process: “I am laid low in the dust,” he wrote. Another way to interpret it is “I am glued to the things of earth.” But he found an escape route: “Preserve my life according to Your Word.”
Stuck in sin? Release is ours through Christ!
Prayer: Please, Father, enable us to see the path to happiness goes through Your Son into eternal life! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:25 My soul clings to the dust; Revive me according to Your word.
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There are many things in the Bible that we do not understand. There are other things in the Bible that we think we understand. There are many things in the Bible that we cannot understand. But there are many things in the Bible that we do understand but simply chose to do nothing about.
So, what’s the problem?
If we want to know a person, we must spend time with that one. And more than anything else the Bible is about a Person. So if we want to know that Person, we must spend time in the Bible. Now, there are two important facts here. The Bible was given to us by men who God inspired to write it. Because it is God’s inspired Word, we need His Spirit to illuminate it for us. But we cannot expect Him to illuminate it for us unless we are willing to allow His Spirit to open our eyes to see Him as He is in His Word.
A child was born blind and spent years unable to see the world around him. Researchers finally found a way to restore his sight. Not knowing what the outcome would be the surgeons were cautious not to give him too much hope. The day finally arrived when they were to remove his bandages. They led him to a window that overlooked a flower garden. When the bandages were removed, he stood in amazement and said, “Mom, why didn’t you tell me how beautiful the flowers are?”
“I tried,” she said, “but you have to see them for yourself.” So it is with God. We have to see Him for ourselves.
Prayer:Help us, Father, to see You as You are - in all of Your loveliness - as we find You in Your Word. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:18 Open my eyes, that I may see Wondrous things from Your law.
The word “heart” in the Bible refers to “the center of things” or the “inner man” or “the governing center” of man. There is no suggestion in Scripture that the brain is the center of our consciousness, our wills or our thoughts. In fact some Biblical scholars believe that the “First great commandment probably means ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart’ - that is with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” In other words, what is in our hearts is what comes out in our lives.
Looked at from this point of view that the heart is essentially where our thoughts and desires and goals and values originate, we can say that for the Christian, life is “lived from the inside out.” Sooner or later, if it’s on the inside, it will surface on the outside. Then people will know who we are and what matters the most to us. Indeed, seeing is believing.
The Psalmist gave us this truth when he wrote: “I have hidden Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You.” Jesus added His wisdom to this very basic truth when He said, “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart...For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”
One of the most popular advertisements on TV is the one that asks, “What’s in your wallet?” But in the end the answer to that question is not really important. It’s “What’s in your heart” that matters most. If God’s Word is in our hearts He will be obvious in our lives!
Prayer:Help us, Father, to spend time in Your Word and with Your Word so others will see Your Word in us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:11 Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.
James didn’t want to be a farmer like his Dad. He resented the long days, hard work and low pay. So, every time Dad asked him to do something he would ask sarcastically, “Why?” or “Why should I do that?” or “Why me?” or “Why do you want that done?” It bothered his Dad who planned on leaving the farm to him when he died.
One day he gave him a basket with a rope on it and said, “Go to the well and fill it with water.” “Why?” asked his son. “None of your ‘whys’ this time - just do as you’re told.”
He dipped the basket in the well and pulled it to the top. He watched the water flow out between the spaces in the basket and became angry. “It won’t hold water,” he shouted. “Do it again,” said the Dad. Again the water seeped out of the basket. “Do it again,” said his Dad. “I will not. You’re not going to make a fool of me! I’m not going to do it again! Take your old basket back!”
“Look,” said his Dad with a smile. “Now the basket is clean - which is what it needed and you didn't have to ask ‘why.’ The water did what it was supposed to do. It washed away the dirt. Now it’s clean and we can use it to put our crops in.”
How like God’s Word. We don’t need to ask God “Why” we need to read His Word. It’s the way it works - it cleanses us from sin and keeps us pure. The Psalmist had it right: “How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to Your Word.”
Prayer:Lord, give us a deep desire to read Your Word and allow it to fill our lives. Help us to become pure. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:9 How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.
Marcie stood before her Dad looking at her favorite toy car. Suddenly she jumped up in his lap and said, “You know, Daddy, this is my favorite toy. But I want you to have it.”
Surprised, he asked, “Why, I know that you love this little car. Why are you giving it to me?”
“Because I love you,” was her reply.
A few moments later she climbed back into his lap and said, “Daddy, I want my car back. I guess I didn’t love you as much as I thought I did,” and took her car back.
Many Christians have the same attitude toward God. We give ourselves to Him and then realize that it’s going to bring about changes in our lives that we did not realize. So, we take back our “gift.”
In Psalm 118 we read of a “festal” procession with people going “up to the horns of the altar.” The people in this procession are taking a sacrifice to God. This is not unusual because throughout the Bible people take many different sacrifices to God. In this verse, however, the people in the procession are required to take their “bough” in their hands - their sacrifice - and “bind” it to the altar. Once the sacrifice was bound to the altar, it could not be taken back!
Paul wrote, “Give your bodies to God and let them be a living sacrifice.” The sacrifice he writes of in this verse is not for our sin but for our salvation. When we accept His salvation He expects us to willingly “bind” ourselves to Him in loving service.
Prayer:Convict us, Lord, to become “willing” sacrifices and abandon ourselves in service to You forever. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 118:27 God is the Lord, And He has given us light; Bind the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar.