After hearing the latest political sound bite without a bit truth, I was reminded that the Apostle John said, “We must show love through actions that are sincere, not through empty words.” Promises and sincerity go hand in hand, and a promise is only as good as the object in which it is placed.
The object of my faith and hope is God, and His promises are more than egg shells and jell-o—they’re rock solid. Moses said, “God is not like people. He tells no lies. He is not like humans. He doesn’t change his mind. When he says something, he does it. When he makes a promise, he keeps it (Number 23:19).”
You can trust the promises of God for several reasons:
- You can trust the truthfulness of His Word: “God means what he says. What he says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God’s Word. We can’t get away from it—no matter what (The Message, Hebrews 4:12-13).”
- You can trust His faithfulness knowing that, “ Like a shepherd, he will care for his flock, gathering the lambs in his arms, hugging them as he carries them, leading the nursing ewes to good pasture (The Message, 40:11).”
- You can trust Him because He loves you: “Consider the kind of extravagant love the Father has lavished on us—He calls us children of God! It’s true; we are His beloved children (I John 3:1).”
To keep a promise, a person must have the strength and resources to fulfill the commitment. There are several places in the Bible where God is referred to as the “Almighty God.” He is no puny 90 pound weakling, but the Almighty God and the Great I Am. Psalm 91 confirms this: “He that dwells in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.”
I’ll close with these words from D.L. Moody: “God never made a promise that was too good to be true.”
It’s not quite the stuff of the Beatles Twist and Shout: It’s better. Psalm 95:1-3 has a lot of shouting, and it encourages you to twist your heart and soul into the presence of God:
Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. For the Lord is the great God, and the great King above all gods. ~Psalm 95
- These verses encourage you to sing out: I have trusted in Your mercy, so my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me. Psalm 13:5-6
- They admonish you to be filled with joy within: Many sorrows shall be to the wicked; but he who trusts in the Lord, mercy shall surround him. Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous; and shout for joy, all you upright in heart! Psalm 32:10-11
- They suggest the need to express your thanks: I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving. Psalm 69:30
- Instead of being quite, you’re instructed to shout up to the heavens, and to delight in God’s righteousness by shouting for joy and being glad. Psalm 35:7
As you make your plans for the weekend, I encourage you to reflect on this Psalm. It may serve as motivator to get you to make a joyful shout to the Lord; to serve Him with gladness; and to come before His presence with singing (Psalm 100).
It’s enough to make you cry! You know what I mean . . the stinging sensation when your eyes began to burn after jumping into a swimming pool. Up to this point, you may have attributed the red eyes and stinging to chlorine in the water. I hate to be the one who breaks the news to you, but chlorine isn’t the chemical culprit: It’s urine.
The Centers for Disease Control reports that when pool goers go in the pool, the urine binds with the chlorine and produces chloramine. Not only is chloramine an eye irritant, it is also a derivative of ammonia that can cause respiratory problems among some swimmers.
If you find the thought of little tykes tinkling in the pool a bit disgusting, think about your stream of sins from God’s perspective. Jesus said, “It’s what comes out of a person that pollutes: obscenities, lusts, thefts, murders, adulteries, greed, depravity, deceptive dealings, carousing, mean looks, slander, arrogance, foolishness—all these are vomit from the heart. There is the source of your pollution (Mark 7:20-23 from The Message).”
Are the habits that define you ones of pollution or purity? Are they mortifying to God or glorifying to Him? I encourage you to live a life that glorifies God by clothing yourself “with a holy way of life: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience (Colossians 3:12).”
One of my favorite characters in the Old Testament is a man named Samuel. In I Samuel 12:23, he vowed that he would “. . . not sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you.”
With this in mind, I offer a simple prayer for you today:
May God guide your feet when you meet a fork in the road; may He give you strength to behave and be brave when you face the enemy; and, may He give you the ability to wait patiently when under the weight of a trial.
May the Lord bless you and watch over you; may He smile on you and be kind to you; and, may the Lord look on you with favor and give you peace.
Please share this prayer with those you know.
Like many people, Psalm 23 is a favorite of mine. As I was reading it earlier today, the last four words of verse 3 caught my attention: The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. 3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
When left to themselves, those last four words, “for His names sake” are just a vanilla phrase. To really see the beauty of God, it helps to take a quick look at His name. As written in the Hebrew language of the Old Testament, the names of God are colorful and explicit in their terminology, and they emphasize the way He interacts with His creation:
- Jehovah-rophe (the Lord who heals you)
- Jehovah-raah (the caring Shepherd)
- Jehovah-jireh (the will provide)
- Jehovah-shalom (the Lord is peace)
Take these four names of God and make a personal application to your life:
- When you are struggling with emotional or physical issues, you can call out to Jevovah-rophe.
- When you feel like you’re alone and no one cares, Jehovah-raah is present.
- When you don’t know where to turn or what to do, Jehovah-jireh will provide.
- When the world seems to be shattered and crumbling beneath your feet, Jehovah-shalom is the peace in the eye of the storm.
I hope a focus on “his name’s sake” will be at the center of your thoughts today.
For the most part, I love the spring season of the year. I did say, “for the most part.” When it comes to the “part” that requires me to trim the 100 foot of hedges, I rethink my love affection for spring. There are some days that I work all day in the yard, and I am bone-tired by the time I finish.
When I read 2 Corinthians 7, I get the idea that Paul was bone-tired physically as well as spiritually: “In fact, when we came into Macedonia, we had no rest. Instead, we were troubled in every way: conflicts on the outside, fears inside.”
The remedy for Paul’s affliction was encouragement:
But God, who comforts the humble, comforted us by the arrival of Titus, and not only by his arrival, but also by the comfort he received from you. He told us about your deep longing, your sorrow, and your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced even more . . . In addition to our comfort, we rejoiced even more over the joy Titus had, because his spirit was refreshed by all of you (2 Corinthians 7:6,7,13).
Paul said that both he and Titus were encouraged and refreshed by their interaction with other believers. Does your presence encourage or discourage other people? Solomon said:
- A twinkle in the eye delights the heart. Good news refreshes the body (Proverbs 15:30).
- Whoever refreshes others will be refreshed (Proverbs 11:25).
This could be one of the blessings of the golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” When you refresh and encourage others, it refreshes and encourages you.
When David wrote Psalm 62, he was in a desperate situation. Men, who were full of evil, were scheming against David, and even threatening to kill him.
David did what he usually did when he found himself in dire straits, he looked to God for help. Psalm 62:7-8, gives you a glimpse into the mind of this troubled king, and reveals his concept of God:
In God is my salvation and my glory;
The rock of my strength,
And my refuge, is in God.
Trust in Him at all times, you people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us.
Notice the first word in each of the last three lines:
- Trust: You are to trust God in the good times as well as the bad.
- Pour: Instead of trying to fight your battles by yourself, confide in God and pour your heart out to Him in prayer.
- God: To really comprehend this verse, you need to make four sentences out of it, and contemplate each one of them:
- God (Creator of Heaven and Earth)
- God is (Not was; He is a present tense God)
- God is a refuge (Fortress and place of safety)
- God is a refuge for us. The Creator of all is always present as a fortress to meet your personal needs)
Celebrate the goodness of God today and praise Him because He is your salvation and your glory; the rock of your strength, and He is your refuge.
There’s an interesting piece of conversation in I Chronicles 28 between God and Solomon that occurs after the rule and reign of King David. At the start of Solomon’s reign, God set some standards to help guide the new king: “The Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.”
There are a few principles in this passage that may help you:
- God doesn’t just single you out. He mingles in with all of His creation: “the Lord searches every heart”
- God understands because He stands over you every moment of your life, and He aware of every one of your thoughts and desires.
- Even though God detects sin, He doesn’t reject the sinner who asks to be forgiven. From the heights of His holiness, there flows a river of mercy.
- If there is anything God does not do well, it’s playing hide and seek: “If you seek Him, He will be found by you.”
When you seek God and find Him, you will also discover:
- The fountain of life (Psalm 36:9).
- The river of delights (Psalm 36:8).
- The water of eternal life (John 4:14).
- His great love and rich mercy (Ephesians 2:4).
- The perfection of beauty (Psalm 50:2).
I’m not sure how you arrange your schedule, and plan each day of your life, but let me make a suggestion for the rest of this week. Make it a priority to seek God. When Asaph wrote Psalm 50, he said: “The Mighty One, God, the Lord, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to where it sets.”
Have you ever been subpoenaed or received a summons to appear before a judge? If you don’t follow the dictates of that summons, you are in contempt of court. How serious is it, if you refuse a summons from the Mighty One?”
Success and failure are the topics of many discussions. In the Proverbs, Solomon draws a contrast between the “God-loyal people” and the “wicked” and how they manage the difficult times they face:
“Don’t interfere with good people’s lives; don’t try to get the best of them. No matter how many times you trip them up, God-loyal people don’t stay down long; Soon they’re up on their feet, while the wicked end up flat on their faces.” ~Proverbs 24:15-16
When a person is successful, he hears the cheers of the crowd; however, when he fails, the whispers of the same people are heard as an agonizing shout. Failure is, however, a normal part of a person’s life.
With this in mind, let me share my Top Ten Failure Quotes:
- Failure is not falling down: It is staying down.
- “Failure isn’t fatal, but failure to change might be” – John Wooden
- “Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” – Denis Waitley
- “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas A. Edison
- “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill
- “It’s not how far you fall, but how high you bounce that counts.” – Zig Ziglar
- “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan
- Try again. Fail again. Fail better. ~Samuel Beckett
- Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat. ~F. Scott Fitzgerald
- The men who try to do something and fail are infinitely better than those who try to do nothing and succeed. ~Lloyd Jones
When I think of a God-loyal person, I think of Tim Tebow. This young man had a stellar career as a college quarterback. When his professional career came to an abrupt halt, some people labeled him as a failure.
Tebow refused ti sit in a corner and sulk. He decided to invest his life in the lives of others, and he does this through the Tim Tebow Foundation that “exists to bring Faith, Hope and Love to those needing a brighter day in their darkest hour of need.”
Tebow is a living example of Solomon’s words: “God-loyal people don’t stay down long; Soon they’re up on their feet . . . “
When I woke up this morning I was thinking of the word “follow” and the several times Jesus spoke this word. I did a quick scan of the four Gospels, and I found a couple of interesting concepts.
In Mathew 4:19-20, Jesus said: “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men, and they immediately left their nets and followed Him.”
- Principle: If you do not follow Jesus you will be snared by the net of the world.
- Principle: Fishing for fish is good, but fishing for men is better.
In John 8:12, Jesus said: “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”
- Principle: If you don’t walk with Jesus in the light, you will stumble without Him in the dark.
- Principle: Jesus does not HAVE the light of the world, He IS the Light of the world.
In John 10:27, Jesus said: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”
- Principle: Obedient sheep hear His voice and make the choice to follow Him.
- Principle: When you deny and won’t comply, you are easy prey for the wolf.
Here’s the simple truth: You can follow or be hollow. When you are hollow, you will search for fullness, satisfaction, contentment, and love in all the wrong places. When you follow Jesus you can be fully holy.
The wisdom of Solomon is a fitting conclusion: “The way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, But He loves him who follows righteousness (Proverbs 15:9).”