“I need to come talk with you,” he said nervously. “I have everything anyone could ask for, but I’m miserable. I think you are the only hope I have. As soon as I get back from this trip I’m taking, I’ll be in to see you.”

“Well,” I said, “I don’t have any answers for your problems, but I believe strongly that God does. And if you seek Him sincerely and honestly, He’ll give you the right answer for any problem. We have His Word on that.”

The trip is over, He returned safely and had a “good time,” but has found no time to look for God’s answers to his miserable condition. Perhaps the trip was so enjoyable that it has relieved him, temporarily, of his distress. It may also have been a “gentle” forewarning from God that, when his misery returns, he will not escape His wrath.

God does everything He can to bring people to a place while they still have time to make things “right” with Him. Our God is not only gracious, He is patient and inviting. But, as Solomon wrote, “Wealth is worthless in the day of God’s wrath.”

When that “day of wrath” arrives, no amount of this world’s wealth will make any difference. In support of this David wrote a warning to the wealthy who have no time for God: “The foolish and the senseless also perish. People, despite their wealth, do not endure.”

Righteousness and right living has its own rewards. It is a life with God’s presence, power and protection now, and a life with Him in eternity forever. He promised us that He will deliver us from destruction and death.

Prayer:  Thank You, Father, for Your eternal Word, the gift of eternal life with You and a hope that comes with it. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 11:4 Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.
“One thing for certain about you, Guido,” he said as he looked at my messy desk, “you don’t have OCD!”

“What do you mean, I don’t have OCD?” I asked.

“Well, if you had an obsessive compulsive disorder you would be arranging and rearranging your desk to make it neat and orderly. Then you would do it over and over again. But, it’s not neat, never has been and probably never will be. I’ll bet that your drawers are the same.”

Realizing that he was right, I decided not to argue with him. He was a psychologist and I was embarrassed.

Many people do arrange and then rearrange things. Some people do things over and over again to make sure that everything is perfect, or as close to perfect as it can be. They check and then recheck what they have already checked. Being around people who have habits like that make me feel guilty. They have to do things right!

But there is a vast difference between doing things right and doing the right things. We can waste an entire day arranging and then rearranging food in our homes while our neighbor goes hungry. Or, we may arrange and then rearrange our cramped closets when we know there are people who are cold and have no warm clothes. We may be doing things right but we are certainly not doing the right things.

Righteousness in God’s Word is a combination of both behaviors. Not only do we want to do things right as He commands us to do in His Word, but we also we want to do the right things that will please and honor Him.

Prayer: Help us, Father, to be aware about how we do “righteousness.” May our lives meet Your expectations. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 1:3 for receiving instruction in prudent behavior, doing what is right and just and fair;
A rather well to do person decided that he would visit a church in a ghetto to see how “people on the other side of the street” lived. On the bottom of the cover of the Sunday bulletin was a statement that shocked him: “Not all who worship here are Christians. Do not leave your purse or any other personal belonging unattended.”
It is tragic but true that many who profess one thing do not practice what they preach. But we who claim to be followers of Jesus are responsible for living as He lived. We are to back up our beliefs with our behavior. It is not how we want to live that matters. It is how God expects us to live that makes the difference an obligation.

When the gears of a transmission turn inside of its transmission case, it will cause the crank shaft to turn and the car will be ready to move when it is put in gear.

So it is with a Christian.

When our hearts are “turned” by the Holy Spirit to the things of God, we will be ready to serve the Lord. When this happens, others will see us “move” or live in agreement with His Word and His ways.

The life of the Christian is much more than churchgoing, Bible-reading, hymn-singing and tithe-giving. If we do all of those “good things” we will still fall short of how God intends us to live: walk blamelessly – live righteously.

The Psalmist said we are to be “blameless in your walk…and do what is righteous.” Being blameless means that when others look at us they find no faults in the way we live because we walk in paths that are righteous.

Prayer: Sometimes, Lord, what You ask of us seems unreal. But, through Christ all things for God are possible. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 15:2a The one whose walk is blameless,
Psalms begins with a promise from God and ends with a call to praise God. “Blessed is the man!” shouts the author. Any man? Every man? No. Indeed not. Blessed is “the” man who delights in and obeys the Words and the Ways of the Lord.
Psalms ends with a call to “Praise the Lord.” Any man? Every man? Yes. Yes, indeed. “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.”

The first Psalm makes a difference between the godly man and the ungodly man. But the concluding Psalm does not mention the ungodly. Why?

The godly are “like a tree that is planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” What a beautiful description of the godly: they are happy, have lived a worthwhile life and will live eternal life.

But the ungodly? They are pictured with words that are hopeless. “They are like chaff,” writes the Psalmist, “that the wind blows away. Therefore, the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor will sinners be in the assembly of the righteous.” The ungodly will not be safe on the Judgment Day. Nor will they be invited to stand among the godly. What a tragedy. What an ending to a life that was filled with opportunities to become godly. It is a life that was misspent, misdirected and mistaken.

No matter what we hear from politicians and social scientists, there are only two classes of people: the godly and the ungodly. And two ends: heaven and hell.

Prayer: Lord, may we hear Your Word and Your voice and accept Your invitation to become godly people. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 1 – Psalm 150
The young couple had been married for less than a month. One evening after taking his bride to dinner, the husband nervously asked, “Dear, you wouldn’t be offended if I pointed out a few of your flaws and faults, would you?”
“Why, of course not, Andrew,” she responded. “After all, those little defects kept me from getting a better husband.”

We all have defects – except our Lord. The Psalmist reminded us of this when he wrote, “The Lord is righteous in all His ways and loving toward all He has made.”

Before the sixteenth century, the word “righteousness” was spelled, “rightwise.” It meant “one who is as he ought to be.” Our Lord is what God intended Him to be. He committed no sin. He did not violate anyone’s rights. He wronged no person. Whatever He did was right. He was “rightwise.”

Our English word “holy” is closely related to the idea of being “whole” or “complete.” Three feet is a “whole” yard. One hundred pennies are a “whole” dollar. Our Lord approached nothing or no one half-heartedly. He never held anything back for Himself. He was totally committed to whatever He did to the glory of God. Every obligation He had to His Father was “complete!”

Not a one of us is who or what God “intended” us to be. We are not who we “ought” to be in God’s eyes. Nor are we “whole” or “complete” as God designed and created us to be. We have all “fallen short” of His intentions.

But through Christ our Savior we can be!

Prayer:  Thank You, Father, for providing a way for us to become who You intended us to be through Christ. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 145:17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all he does.

Do Right!

November 12, 2013
“Blessed are they...,” said the Psalmist, “who constantly do what is right.” Jesus, too, emphasized the importance of righteousness when He began His public ministry. “Blessed,” said Jesus, “are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”

Doing what is right and hungering and thirsting for righteousness is not a priority in the lives of many who call themselves “Christian.” It is as though it is a lifestyle that is more suitable for monks who live in a monastery and spend their time reading the Bible and praying. They can avoid the “real things” of life and be righteous.

Perhaps when we think of being “righteous” and “doing what is right” we shudder because it sounds so “limiting” on the one hand and “impossible” on the other. “What fun is there in being righteous?” we ask? Or, “If I ‘do right’ I’ll live a life of gloom and doom with no room for happiness and joy.” What a grim prospect.

But the exact opposite is true. God has a plan for each of our lives and has laid out this plan for each of us. It will ultimately lead us into His presence. If we seek and follow the plan and purpose He has for our lives we will walk in paths of “righteousness for His name’s sake.” If we want to know the “path of righteousness” He has for our lives we must study His Word. And the more we study His Word the more we will become like Him. If our desire is to “do right” and become “righteous” we will need to spend time alone with Him, get to know Him and grow closer to Him. To do right is up to each of us. 

Prayer: Lord, we all want to “do right.” But we cannot “do right” unless we are willing to spend time with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture for Today: Psalm 106:3 Blessed are those who act justly, who always do what is right.
When we are born, we know nothing, have no plan to follow and must be taught how to live. In front of us lie opportunities that are untested and untried. Unfortunately, we do not have any “second chances” in life to live our lives over again. No matter how deep our desire may be or how desperate we are, we cannot relive one second nor retrace one step. Each step is final and every second gone forever.

David, however, says that the Good Shepherd will “lead us in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” Note carefully that He does simply want us to understand what righteousness is, but that He leads His own “in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”

This is very important. The “righteousness” that David is speaking of here is not an end in itself. If it were, it would lead us to a state of “self-righteousness” - not godly righteousness. God does not want us to stray or walk in paths that are unrighteous because they will lead us to defeat and destruction, sin and shame. He wants to lead us in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Nothing is more important for us. Why?

Because of the Shepherd’s name - His reputation - is at stake. Like it or not, His name will be respected or rejected by the way we live. Our lives say it all.

Alexander the Great once said to one of his soldiers, “Your name is Alexander and my name is Alexander. But you are bringing disgrace to my name. Change your name or change the way you live.”

Prayer: Enable, us Father, to walk righteously in Your power for Your Name’s sake, to honor You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 23:3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.

David’s boldness is dramatic. He goes before God with confidence and conviction - not fearing what God may uncover in his heart. “Hear me, O Lord - my plea is just and my prayer does not rise from deceitful lips.” Most of us, when we go to God in prayer, begin with a plea for forgiveness, knowing that our lives fall short of God’s expectations and our best efforts.

David, in this psalm, had no fear of God. He said that “You, God, have probed my heart, examined me at night, have tested me and found no evil plans within me!” That’s boldness that we can actually see! Few of us would stand before God and make such statements! How was it that David could ask God to put him under His magnifying glass and have no fear? Was he a favorite of God’s? Did he do something that gave him special privileges in God’s sight? Or was he so aware of God’s love, mercy and grace that he could stand before God and say, “Judge me! I’ve been cleansed of my sin!”

David prayed for God’s presence to be with him and His eyes to be upon him. And we, as David, can make that same claim! Not because we have a clear conscience or a just plea. Not because God has examined and found us faultless.

We can ask for God’s presence and His favors because we have a Savior Who cleanses us from all unrighteousness and Who pleads our cause before His Father. “In Him and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence,” said Paul.

Prayer: Your greatness and grace, Heavenly Father, are more than we deserve but not greater than our needs. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 17:1 Hear a just cause, O Lord, Attend to my cry; Give ear to my prayer which is not from deceitful lips.
Justin came home from school with a note from his teacher. After handing it to his father he stood quietly as he read it out loud. “Mr. Brady, Justin started a fight during recess today and was sent to the principal’s office. Please discuss this matter with him and decide what punishment he should receive.”

After reading the note, his father looked him in the eyes and said, “Justin, I’m really disappointed in you. I never thought you would do something like that!”

“Dad,” cried Justin, “it wasn’t my fault. It was Danny’s. He hit me first. Cross my heart and hope to die if I am not telling the truth!”

No one enjoys being judged for wrong doing. We all want to believe that we live a life that reflects clean hands, a pure heart and a mind free of evil thoughts. But if we were to be questioned and asked if we lived up to those character traits, not many of us would “cross our hearts and hope to die” if challenged.

David knew that his hands were not clean, nor his heart pure or his mind free of evil thoughts. So, he appealed to the mercy and grace of God and cried out to Him and said, “Declare me righteous, O Lord, for I am innocent, O Most High.”

That wonderful declaration of David was finally and fully answered in Christ. When he called for the righteousness of God to declare him innocent, he knew that it was in God’s nature to forgive him for his sins and to deliver him from his sinful behaviors.

Prayer: How grateful we are, Father, for Your grace that saves us and for Your presence that protects us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Psalm 7:9 Oh, let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end, But establish the just; For the righteous God tests the hearts and minds.
1 2 3