And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God. (Luk 16:15) I truly believe that the worse “new teaching” from the world today is the one of self esteem. This teaching is definitely not scriptural and it has done so much damage. It is not a new teaching but it is certainly more prevalent in today’s world than in the past. Everyone is focused on me, myself and I. What’s in it for me? You offended me! You hurt my feelings. You’re no better than I am. Don’t tell Johnny, who’s in the tenth grade that he is only reading at fifth grade level, you’ll ruin his self esteem! No where in God’s Word does it say that we should esteem ourselves! Why do you think people are conceited and full of themselves? They have been “self esteemed” to the point of nausea!

Noah Webster’s definition of the word esteem is SO very different from today’s.

1. To set a value on, whether high or low; to estimate; to value.

Then he forsook God who made him, and lightly esteemed the rock of his salvation. Deu 32.

They that despise me shall be lightly esteemed. 1 Sam 2.

2. To prize; to set a high value on; to regard with reverence, respect or friendship. When our minds are not biased, we always esteem the industrious, the generous, the brave, the virtuous, and the learned.

Will he esteem thy riches? Job 36.

Merriam-Webster’s definition

is the regard in which one is held; especially : high regard

Merriam’s definition is quite diluted, isn’t it?

What things in God’s Word are we to esteem? Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food. (Job 23:12) Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way. (Psa 119:128 ) God’s Word should be esteemed. If you were to place the emphasis of Merriam’s definition for esteem to God’s Word, you would not be totally convinced that it deserved such a high rating, right? But if you put Noah’s definition, you see that the Bible is to be prized and reverenced. This is a much different viewpoint! No wonder the worldly Christians do not look to the Word of God to change them. They don’t revere it, therefore, it’s impact on their lives is minimal.

Does God regard esteem as sin? And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God. (Luk 16:15) (emphasis mine) God considers it an abomination if you esteem that which is ungodly.

Whom should we esteem? Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. (Phi 2:3) and And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves. (1 Th 5:13) We should esteem the brethren better than ourselves and we should esteem those who are over us – our deacons and our Pastors. No where in my 27 years of salvation have I ever read in God’s Word that I should think highly of myself. If I love the brethren, they will always take precedence over me. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, (1 Cor 13:4) Paul says that our love for each other will cause us to be longsuffering with each other, be kind to each other, not envy one another, and not think highly of ourselves. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. (Rom 12:16)

My friend, these are not the Bible verses encouraging us to have self esteem! These verses are encouraging us to be humble, meek and low in pride. What will happen to the one who thinks highly of himself? Cast abroad the rage of thy wrath: and behold every one that is proud, and abase him. (Job 40:11)

Thus saith the Lord GOD; Remove the diadem, and take off the crown: this shall not be the same: exalt him that is low, and abase him that is high. (Eze 21:26)

Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase. (Dan 4:37)

And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. (Mat 23:12)

For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. (Luk 14:11)

I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. (Luk 18:14)

None of these verses sound like words from a support group for self-esteem. Quite the opposite. We should rather be humble and be promoted to the front of the line by the Lord than to think more of ourselves and have Him tell us to get to the back of the line. If anyone had reason for self-esteem, it was the Lord Jesus Christ. But He humbled Himself to the point of dying for you and I. If we are to walk in His footsteps, how can we possibly have self-esteem and say that it comes from God? This is hypocrisy – we should do well to learn from the account of the Pharisee and the Publican.

Dear God…
May our eyes be off ourselves
And focused on others instead
May we be as humble as You were
As You walked the path to your death

Honour thy father and thy mother. Exo 20:12 The Lord has led a few people in my life who struggle in this area of honouring their parents. Each one has a unique situation and trial with their parents. No matter what the trial or circumstance is, however, I noticed that God’s Word did not put any stipulations on His commandment to Honour thy father and thy mother in Ex. 20:12. I wondered why the Lord had allowed these people in my life who had struggles with their parents. I personally did not have these struggles. But my oldest sister certainly did. For years I was the “bridge” between my parents and her. She was not a Christian, but I was. I was placed in a precarious situation as a believer. I could quite understand the abuse she suffered as a child at the hand of my father. I could quite understand her contempt for my mother because she felt my mother allowed it. Yet, both my parents became born again. Both had sought her forgiveness. But because she had never been saved, she did not forgive them. Instead, in her short life, she lost her husband to cancer, she had no children of her own, and she succumbed to cancer in 2001 and died in a hospital room all alone. She alienated herself from the family all those years and finally those final two-three years, she alienated herself from me. The last thing I heard that she said was from her best friend. Her friend told me that my sister hated the fact that I kept witnessing to her and did not believe her to be saved. Entrenched in roman catholicism, she could not see her sin. In her eyes she was a good person. A born-again child of God would be humbled that someone cared enough for their soul to continue witnessing to them.

But this morning, as I sat praying with a dear friend, the Lord revealed to me why I was allowed to be that bridge for my sister. I was allowed the awesome privilege of hearing the harsh truth of what a child goes through when they have been treated badly by their parents. I have seen first hand how the bitterness and contempt ate up my sister to the point she had cancer in her body. I have seen first hand how this bitterness totally enveloped her and ate at her. In my conversations with her, she did not want to hear anything about what she had to do to heal these relationships. All she could think of was what they had to do to heal their relationship with her. Her eyes were focused on self – a very natural thing for a person who is lost. How she hated my parents – she alienated herself from them all in the guise of protecting herself from their manipulations. Her heart and mind were so obsessed, she became consumed with this contempt for them. It came to the point when my brother (who is also saved) and I tried to talk some sense into her, the contempt spilled over to us. So, I am sharing with you what the Lord has laid on my heart. Hopefully those same people He has led to me will be blessed by what God allowed me to go through. I pray I use it to His glory and honour.

Just what does honour mean in this verse? Noah Webster defines it as:

1. To revere; to respect; to treat with deference and submission, and perform relative duties to. Honour thy father and thy mother. Exo 20:12.

It does not say to love them. I found this interesting. Most of us have a natural affection and love for our parents. But what about those children who have been estranged from their parents for one reason or another? How can they honour their parents if they don’t love them? According to Noah Webster, honouring parents means to:

1. Revere them – To regard with fear mingled with respect and affection
2. Respect them – To view or consider with some degree of reverence; to esteem as possessed of real worth
3. Treat with deference – A yielding in opinion; submission of judgment to the opinion or judgment of another. Hence, regard; respect.
4. Submit to them – the act of yielding to power or authority
5. Perform relative duties to – The acts and tasks children do requested of them by their parents.

Naturally, these actions are a result of loving our parents. However, no where does it say that we must love our parents. We are to obey our parents and honour them. These are the only commandments to children I have found. Naturally a child who obeys and honours their parents will love them but a child who has been abused or hurt deeply, it is not natural for them to love at all.

But again, what about the child whose relationship has been damaged or strained with his parents? He can still honour his parents according to Noah Webster, can’t he? He does not have to love them. However, he does have to honour them. If he still lives under their roof, he still needs to obey them. This is what God commands. I found it interesting that a child is never commanded to love his parents.

I believe from the bottom of my heart that a son and daughter who have been hurt deeply by their parents can heal their broken relationships by honouring them the way God intended for them to honour their parents. Taking Noah’s definitions, let’s look at some ways this can be fulfilled by what God has commanded:

1. Revere them – You may not regard your parents with respect and affection but you can regard their “office” with respect and affection. Your Heavenly Father is the ultimate Parent. Revere the office because it is desired of your Heavenly Father. This will please Him. Use His office as the ultimate example and apply it to your parents’ office. The love you have for God should be your driving force in this effort.

2. Respect them – The office of parent is not an easy task. For those of you with children of your own, you can attest to this. For those reasons alone, this should be enough for you to respect their office. Honouring this office is not a choice but a command (according to Ex. 20:12). Parents deserve respect because of the position they hold, not their actions. When one can look beyond the person and the hurts and focus on the “office” it removes the emotion and personal involvement with the people and places it on the office.

3. Treat with deference – There is nothing more common today than children who have a difference of opinion from those of their parents and they strive to prove their point or make their opinions known no matter what the cost. Just because one disagrees with parents does not mean they have the “right” to “speak their minds” and disrespect them. Deference is a yielding in your opinion and submission of judgment to their opinion. It does not mean your opinion changes, it just means that you are not going to argue with your parents because you respect the office they hold. Would you argue with your Pastor? Would you argue with the President of the United States? No! You would respect their office and watch your tongue. You might even keep a few things to yourself for fear of hurting them. That is all part of honouring them. This reminds me of the verse, A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. (Pro 15:1)

4. Submit to them – As long as a child lives under his parents’ roof, he is under their umbrella of authority. Like an umbrella protects one from the elements, the umbrella of authority keeps the child from being accountable. The parents absorb any bad judgments. God will hold the parents responsible for their abuse – for their unwise decisions on behalf of their children. To the child who doesn’t know any better and his parents do him wrong, God’s hand is on him and will keep him through it. But the moment this child steps out from underneath the umbrella of authority in his life and takes control,
he is subject to the devil’s trials and tribulations. Not only will the child suffer the consequences of the trial but he will suffer the chastisement of God for not honoring and obeying his parents. Submission keeps things in order. We are not commanded to honour only when parents are good parents. We are not commanded to obey our parents only when they are saved or if they are good parents.

5. Perform relative duties to – Because your parents hold that office, it is the child’s duty to help them – to aid them in their time of need. One of the greatest testimonies I know is a friend of mine. His parents never displayed love toward him. After his salvation, he changed dramatically. His brothers were involved in the sodomite lifestyle and his parents accept them openly. But they do not accept my dear friend and his love for the Lord. They despised his stand on sodomy because it affected their other sons. Does this stop my friend from being kind to his parents and honouring them? Absolutely not. He is usually the one who goes to their house and fixes things, paints, etc. They can always count on him to help them. Today they call him if they have a need because he has honoured them – his testimony has ministered to their hearts. Will he ever be able to lead them to the Lord because of his actions? I don’t know. But what I do know is that even though he is in his 40’s, he is still honouring his parents and doing God proud.

So, dear Christian, are you struggling in your relationship with your parents? It’s not what you think or what your parents think. It is what God’s Word says you must do as a child: honour and obey. Do you honour them in the manner defined in Noah Webster’s Dictionary? You don’t have to love them – but you are commanded to honour them. This is the only commandment with a promise attached to it, Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. (Exo 20:12) God shows it is that important.

Dear God…
Although my parents are not worthy
And their actions toward me are wrong
The Word reveals Your plan for me
Give me grace to always be strong

Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. (Luk 6:36) Today’s devotional is a long one, but I ask for your patience as it is not a subject that can be dealt with in just a few words. Most of us think that God refers to those “unlovable” people when we read this verse. We think that it is fulfilling the following: Matt. 25:34-40, Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: (34) For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: (35) Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. (36) Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? (37) When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? (38 ) Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? (39) And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. (40)

But what about those “prickly” people who are closer to you than strangers? What about those hard to love church folks? What about those estranged family members? What about your own flesh and blood family who have wronged you? Do you think God excluded those from these verses? Are we placing restrictions on God’s Word by omitting them from the mercy we should be showing? Is God’s love conditional? For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. (Rom 5:6) But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom 5:8 ) If God’s love is conditional, we would all be in big trouble, for we have all sinned. Why should our love for those I’ve mentioned be any different? Does God not encourage us throughout the Word to have the same agape love that He has for us? If God took to heart all the bad things we did or said, He would be the first to shun us! Remember the old adage, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”? Easier said than done, right? Broken bones heal but words sure do cut to the core of a person’s heart. How does the world react to hurtful words? I remember my old days – get even, that’s the only way. The Lord sure has done a work in my heart since then.

However, why is it that we struggle with this more when it is someone right in our own family? These family members are the ones that need our testimony the most. Strangers don’t see us as we truly are. They don’t see us at home – behind closed doors. Our families see us for what we really are. All the more reason for us to show mercy and compassion to those who are lost or backslidden. Have you been hurt deeply by a family member, my friend? Have you been hurt by a church member? I know I have. Loving those prickly and hard-to-love people is not something we can do in the flesh. We just cannot “make” ourselves love them. But we can love them with God’s love. How? Love is a word of motion. Love takes action on our part. God showed us this action by leaving His throne and dying for our sins. That is the ultimate display of agape love. It was not a “sit back and see what happens” love but an action love – “I will go to them and see what I can do for them” kind of love.

If we want to get strong physically, we exercise and build up our muscles. If you want to be stronger in the agape love area, start working at it by doing something for those you find difficulty loving. Christ Jesus was our example, was He not? Then follow His example. Go out there and do something for those you struggle with. Forgive them in your heart and move on. The devil would love nothing better than for you to hold on to resentment and bitterness toward those who have hurt you. You no longer serve him so why obey him? Serve your Father in Heaven instead and put some action to your work.

Are you too afraid to speak to that person face-to-face? Why not send a card or an email? Start “doing” for them as you would a total stranger. Start from scratch and build your testimony once again. If you need to ask forgiveness, then do so. If they wronged you, forgive them and move forward. Let the healing power of the Holy Spirit heal you. This is not an option in a Christian’s life. We are commanded, my friend, to love as Christ has loved. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. (Joh 15:12) Did Christ set limits to His love? Did He only die for certain people? No, He died for all sinners. Therefore, your love for others cannot have conditions. I know this is not an easy thing to hear. But as long as we neglect this great teaching and disobey this commandment, are we not out of the Father’s will?

It is difficult to put into practice this same love of Christ, especially if we have been wronged. Let’s say that you came up with a great idea for the Easter Cantata at church. You present it to the Choir Director and he excitedly receives it, complimenting you on your idea! The next thing you know, the Pastor announces from the pulpit that the Choir Director has come up with a brilliant play for the Cantata and there is no mention of you! Here you are sitting in your pew and you’re beet red and steaming on the inside. How dare the Choir Director steal your idea? After church, folks go up to the Director congratulating him on his idea and he does nothing to indicate that the idea was not his. You feel so betrayed and hurt at this point. You try to figure out whether you should go to the Choir Director directly or tell the Pastor that this was your idea and not the Choir Director’s idea. After all, the Pastor ought to know this.

It’s when we are at this point that we should think of John 15:12 and put it to action. Yes, you’ve been wronged. That is no longer the point. The point now is to learn to deal with what has happened and apply Christ’s example to your own situation. Christ would not retaliate and hurt but would lovingly bring this person to reconciliation. So must you. Remember that Christ died for you while you were yet a sinner, right? He forgave you before you even sinned. Then forgive this person, no matter if they have offended you countless times. Matt. 18:21-22, Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? (21) Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. (22) I know it’s difficult, but we’re commanded to forgive. What would you do if Christ did not forgive “some” of your own sins? Christ did not set limits, nor should we. This is agape love, my friend. Once you have forgiven this person in your heart, you are free from the chains of resentment that are binding you. It no longer matters how you feel. What matters is to bring reconciliation.

The next step would be to face your offender. You would be amazed to find the reasoning behind their motives. It does not mean the offense is overlooked – it just means that you learn how to approach that person and discuss the offense with forgiveness already in your heart. That’s the difference. Listen with Christ’s heart rather than your own. Using our example, go to the Choir Director and tell him how happy you were that your idea was selected for the cantata and give the glory to God. Then sit back and listen. He will be sure to “hum and haw” and stumble to find the words to explain. It’s not easy to listen to excuses and place ourselves in their shoes but it is the right thing to do. Maybe
the Choir Director had his own reasons for claiming ownership. Maybe he had certain events going on in his life that caused him to do this. It does not justify that what he did was wrong but it will help you to understand his reasoning. Maybe he was getting back at you for something you did to him that you are unaware of. This is not right but, it will help you to understand. It does not excuse what he did but it helps you to see why he did it. This is where reconciliation begins. You’ve already forgiven him prior to the meeting. Now you are working to restoring the relationship. Look at it this way. Can you imagine how Christ felt? He died for you before you even asked forgiveness! Some never ask for forgiveness yet He died for them too.

It’s hard to understand this kind of love, but we are commanded to love as Christ loves. Now that you are exercising this love and taking that first step of reconciliation, you can move forward in healing the relationship. You can speak your mind without being harsh because you are no longer dealing with forgiveness – you’ve already done this. A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. (Pro 15:1) The Word of God has all that we need to tackle each task in life. If you speak non-combative words, you are promised that there will be peace in your conversation. We are also taught how to speak and which words to say. Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. (Eph 4:29) Whatever you say to the Choir Director, let it be to edify him and to minister grace (goodwill and kindness) to him. If you don’t, you are grieving the Holy Spirit in your own life according to God’s Word. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. (Eph 4:30) The conversation with the Choir Director will not be an easy one. There is no “easy” way to tell someone that they have hurt you because they stole your idea. But there is a nice way to tell them. You can point out a sin but yet say it in such a way that this person knows you love them in the Lord. Your goal is to reconcile this person to God and to restore the relationship between the two of you. (If the person you are struggling with is not a Christian, then your goal is the same – you want to point him to Christ so he can be saved.) Go into your conversations after having prayed for God’s wisdom. God promises to give us wisdom liberally according to James 1:5.

Can you imagine how the Choir Director will respond if you are enter the conversation already with forgiveness? He will not feel defensive because he will see that your motive is not to get even. Your actions will prick his heart and move him to repent. If he does not, you have already forgiven him and the rest is up to him. You no longer have bitterness and resentment but are free to love him as Christ loves you! If the person is not saved, can you imagine how they are going to view your reaction? They will be seeing Christ in action through you. The Gospel is being spoken through action! What a responsibility we have to show this agape love in our lives – this love is one of motion – always moving forward and upward!

As we grow in Christ, we should be viewing the unlovable and prickly people as opportunities to reconcile them to God. What would we have done if Christ had treated us the way we treat those who are unlovable? Are we any different than they? No, but we have the power through Christ to treat the unlovely as He would. What a testimony we can be! What a powerful message we can preach just in our actions alone! What about that brother or parent you’ve been witnessing to for years? Have you had fight after fight trying to point out their sin? Has it brought the two of you closer together or has it brought distance between you? Were you successful in showing them their lost condition? Probably not. Have they hurt you in return? There are some things that you just cannot control, and one of them is their reaction. But what you can control is your reaction. With forgiveness in your heart, you are free to love them the way Christ loves them. Put into practice this agape love and start loving them with action. Do things for them – send a card, make a phone call, bake a cake, make a meal when they are sick – but just do it! Put Christ’s love in motion and love them unconditionally.

Thank You, Lord, for blessing my heart today!

Dear God…
Agape love is what we need
To show the love of Christ
To those who hurt us deeply
Guide us, help us through Your might.

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, (Eph 2:4) In day-to-day living, we human beings learn by watching, reading, and listening. We watch some one’s actions and learn from them – there’s no better example of this than our own children and how quickly they “pick things up” from us – whether good or bad. What we read teaches us and influences our thoughts. Listening also teaches – if we are good listeners. Who we watch, read after and listen to is so important!

The best example and Teacher is our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. If anyone was perfect in mercy, it was Jesus. Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines mercy as:

1. That benevolence, mildness or tenderness of heart which disposes a person to overlook injuries, or to treat an offender better than he deserves; the disposition that tempers justice, and induces an injured person to forgive trespasses and injuries, and to forbear punishment, or inflict less than law or justice will warrant. In this sense, there is perhaps no word in our language precisely synonymous with mercy. That which comes nearest to it is grace. It implies benevolence, tenderness, mildness, pity or compassion, and clemency, but exercised only towards offenders. Mercy is a distinguishing attribute of the Supreme Being.

The Lord is long-suffering and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty. Num 14.

2. An act or exercise of mercy or favor. It is a mercy that they escaped.

I am not worthy of the least of all thy mercies. Gen 32.

3. Pity; compassion manifested towards a person in distress.

And he said, he that showed mercy on him. Luke 10.

4. Clemency and bounty.

Mercy and truth preserve the king; and his throne is upheld by mercy. Prov 28.

5. Charity, or the duties of charity and benevolence.

I will have mercy and not sacrifice. Mat 9.

6. Grace; favor. 1 Cor 7. Jude 2.

7. Eternal life, the fruit of mercy. 2 Tim 1.

8. Pardon.

I cry thee mercy with all my heart.

9. The act of sparing, or the forbearance of a violent act expected. The prisoner cried for mercy.

To be or to lie at the mercy of, to have no means of self-defense, but to be dependent for safety on the mercy or compassion of another, or in the power of that which is irresistible; as, to be at the mercy of a foe, or of the waves.

What a difference in definition when compared to today’s Merriam Webster Dictionary:

1 a: compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one’s power; also : lenient or compassionate treatment b: imprisonment rather than death imposed as penalty for first-degree murder2 a: a blessing that is an act of divine favor or compassion b: a fortunate circumstance 3: compassionate treatment of those in distress

The Christian has seen mercy from the Lord first hand. This lesson in mercy ought to pierce our hearts in such a way that we would want to be merciful to others. How merciful are you toward those who have offended you? Do you mete out mercy equal to that which Christ has shown you? Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. (Luk 6:36)

If we are not merciful toward others, we cannot expect the Lord to be merciful toward us when we need Him to be. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. (Mat 5:7) Showing God’s mercy to others brings happiness and joy to the believer because we are not oppressed by the consequences of sin. We have been freed and are free to love others and be merciful to them. We don’t feel like we are in shackles and bound. I don’t know if this makes sense to you but it’s the only way I can explain how I feel when I am not being obedient to God’s Word in an area that I know I should be. He that despiseth his neighbour sinneth: but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he. (Pro 14:21) This is probably one of the hardest lessons I have had to learn in my Christian walk. It is not human nature to be merciful. Our first reaction is to fight back and prove our point. The furthest thing from our minds is to obey this verse: And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. (Luk 6:31) But Christ tells us that this is what is required of us. Jesus could have easily chosen the same merciless path as I but instead, He submitted to His Father’s will and showed mercy to all. We would be in sad shape had Christ taken the same route as us, wouldn’t we?

…Know therefore that God exacteth of thee less than thine iniquity deserveth. (Job 11:6b) We don’t deserve God’s mercy – but praise His Holy Name that He has shown mercy to us despite of our sin! So much the more should we Christians show mercy to those who hurt and abuse us. This is not an easy teaching to swallow but it is a needful teaching for our spirit. These lessons mold us and form us into the image of Christ and make us into vessels of honour for His use.

Dear God…
Christ, the great example
Of God’s mercy to all who live
May we follow in His footsteps
Standing ready to forgive

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But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil. (Pro 1:33) As cute as this picture is, its message shows a kitten clinging on. The kitten climbed to a place he should not have been and now he’s in trouble. We’ve all had days, maybe even weeks, like this, haven’t we? We feel like we are at the end of our rope. If one more thing goes wrong, we’re going to snap! The Christian has promises in the Word which assure us of a compassionate Heavenly Father who is there to help us in those desperate times. He promises us that if we call upon Him, we will have the awesome privilege of dwelling in safety and we won’t fear what the future has in store. Our trials may still come but the Lord provides peace and assurance that He will be there with us and take care of all things.

When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet. (Pro 3:24) How can you trust someone you only see on occasion? You can’t! Trust is built on day-to-day relationships. A couple who has been married for 20 years will trust their spouse more than a couple who has been married only a few months. The years of building up the relationship adds trust to their marriage foundation. It’s the same with our Heavenly Father. The older we are spiritually, the more we depend on His Word to pull us through, to guide us, and to encourage us. Those who seek God in His Word daily, learn that this is the place to go where you can meet the only One who has never broken a promise. He alone is trustworthy. The Christian is able to lie down and have sweet rest because he trusts his God to take care of all matters – knowing fully that He will not fail him.

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Phi 4:7) We can’t understand how God can work all things out for all believers throughout all of time – but one thing is for sure, He can and He will. We cannot claim this if our hearts quickly fail us in time of trouble. What a testimony it is to see a dear brother or sister in Christ stand strong in their faith through a major trial knowing that God will pull them through. What a thrill for a Christian to be able to turn to the Master of the Sea to calm the storms of their life. There is no need to worry!

Are you worrying today, dear Christian? It is not a good testimony for the unsaved to see this in you. If a co-worker sees you worrying over unpaid bills or a broken-down car, how will they see the power of God at work? It’s the peace which passeth all understanding that will reach out to them. They will want what you have.

And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. (Luk 12:29) For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. (Luk 12:30) Our Father knows our needs and is ever watching over us. Don’t worry about tomorrow and what it might bring. When you are busy serving the Lord, He promises to take care of all your needs – and much better than an earthly father can. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Mat 6:33) Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. (Mat 6:34)

Dear God…
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!
by Thomas Chisholm

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This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. (Jos 1:8 ) Meditating daily on God’s Word is a key part of a Christian’s life. Why would you want to read the Bible just for the sake of reading and receiving nothing from it? God tells us in this verse that we should meditate on it day and night so that we will obey it. Meditating implies application here, doesn’t it? I know that I have meditated on many things but failed to apply it to my life. I did not allow the Holy Spirit of God to change me. It was not God that failed, but I am the one that failed. I was a hearer of the word only and not a doer. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. (Jam 1:22) When we understand what meditation is all about, we begin to understand how God uses it in our lives to mold us into the vessel of honour we should be.

When should we meditate? God’s Word reveals that we should meditate on His Word day and night. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. (Psa 1:2) Whenever the Lord lays a verse on your mind, nurture that verse in your heart. Think about it and meditate on its meaning. The Lord impressed it upon you for a reason. Search out your heart to see where this verse applies. Is it to point out a sin? Confess it. Is it to point you to a task to be done? Recognize the task and do it.

Who should we meditate on? When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches. (Psa 63:6) Meditate on the Lord, Himself. When you cannot sleep, think of His goodness, His blessings, answered prayer, the trials He has brought you through, or your salvation.

What should we meditate on? I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways. (Psa 119:15) I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands. (Psa 143:5) Meditating on the Word of God opens our eyes to God Himself. He reveals Himself to us within the blessed pages of our Bible. We learn about His omnipotence, Jesus’ return and His upcoming Kingdom, how to live godly lives, etc. We also can think about the work of God’s hands – His creation, our families, His Word, etc. The list cannot be exhausted.

What should we do with what we have gleaned from during our times of meditation? I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings. (Psa 77:12) When we meditate on all that the Lord has done for us, we are then ready to share with others what He has done for us. Give God the glory due Him by sharing praises. Too often, we are quick to complain about our circumstances. However, if we have spent our night watches meditating on God’s Goodness, those complaints are long gone and praises rest on our lips.

When should we meditate? Princes also did sit and speak against me: but thy servant did meditate in thy statutes. (Psa 119:23) Let the proud be ashamed; for they dealt perversely with me without a cause: but I will meditate in thy precepts. (Psa 119:78 ) Whenever we are being attacked by the world, we should turn to God’s Word and meditate on it. It is there we will find peace in the midst of turbulence. We should meditate when we have trouble sleeping. But sometimes the sweetest times for meditation are found in those wee hours of the morning when all is quiet. Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word. (Psa 119:148 ) Notice that David says that he prevented his eyes from sleeping so he could meditate on God’s Word. When was the last time I deprived myself of sleep so I could meditate on God’s Word? This was quite a convicting verse for me today.

What are the results of meditating? Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. (1Ti 4:15) When we meditate on God’s Word and apply what we have gleaned to our lives, we cannot help but grow spiritually. We become profitable and in so doing, we become a blessing to those around us. We can be used of God for their benefit.

When we do not meditate on God’s Word, we are revealing our spiritual barometer. If you talk to a Christian who is strong in this area of meditation, you will find a Christian who is solid and not easily caught off guard by the curve balls of life. He also has a spiritually firm foundation and can easily testify of what God has done for him. Strengthen and build upon your foundation by meditating on God’s Word today.

Dear God…
To read and run is tragedy
Nothing is gleaned or learned
But may we rest our weary souls
While we meditate and discern

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They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing. Ps. 92:14 I don’t think I’ve ever seen a topic on what the Word of God has to say about our dear Senior Saints. I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for this generation. I would love to run a retirement home where I could love and dote on these dear folks. The Senior Saints in my church have the greatest testimony when it comes to serving. They do not allow their age to stop them from serving God. Even those Seniors who walk with a walker or cane come to our church to help put tracts and flyers together so those who can go out soulwinning have information to take with them. They are the first to volunteer whenever the church secretary needs help putting things together. No matter what their age, they still serve God with whatever they have left in their weary bodies. What a testimony!

Many cultures today, sadly including our own, regard their senior citizens with disrespect. However, the Christian should be setting an example to the world on how one should treat the dear Senior Saint. The Word says But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. (1 Tim 5:8 ) First of all, our dear saints should not have to worry about where they will live or how they will make ends meet. Each household is commanded by the Word of God to care for their own. The burden does not rest on the government, my friend. The Lord tells us the burden rests on us. So much so, God says that one who does not take care of his family is worse than an infidel (an unbeliever). Sadly, many unbelievers treat their senior citizens better than the Christian!

With the ancient is wisdom; and in length of days understanding. (Job 12:12) We can glean so much if we take time to listen to the wisdom that our dear Senior Saints have. They’ve lived a full life and have been through many trials and tribulations. We can learn from their mistakes as well as their successes. There is nothing more rewarding to me than to listen to a Senior Saint give an account of how God has blessed them or brought them through a trial. I did not always feel this way about my own parents. It’s amazing how much wiser my parents became the older I got.

Mrs. Sarah is an elderly lady I picked up for church every week. She lost her sight the last 12 years of her life and yet she was never bitter toward God for this trial. Mrs. Sarah lived in a government-subsidized home. The people who cared for her took advantage of her blindess and stole from her – the little that she had. She would hide the few dollars she had on her body because they would go through her dresser drawers. Instead of being bitter, she testified of God’s goodness every day. One of my greatest blessings was to listen to Mrs. Sarah share how she was raised by her grandmother. Her grandmother grew up as a slave on a plantation during the Civil War. Mrs. Sarah shared how her grandmother’s family would go hide in the woods late at night so their “master” would not know they were having worship services and Bible time! Do you think Mrs. Sarah’s grandmother complained? I never once heard Mrs. Sarah give an account of any such complaints. However, I did hear about how they hid God’s Word away in their hearts because they only had a few pages of a Bible which were hidden beneath the floor boards. I am a better person today for having known Mrs. Sarah. She’s home with the Lord now and no longer battles blindness! She was welcomed into heaven by that grandmother who hid God’s Word in her heart from those few pages.

Another dear saint I would like to tell you about is a man named Brother John. He also lives at the same home as Mrs. Sarah. Brother John was a dear and meek soul. He worked hard all his life as a window washer. Like Mrs. Sarah, his family never comes to visit him and his church family are all he has. Brother John made a statement to me one day which will stick with me until the day I die: “Eternity is too long and hell fire too hot for someone not to be saved”! Whether he made that statement up or not, he lives by it to this day. This godly man has never once complained in my presence. I’m pretty sure he is in his late 80’s by now and struggles with walking. But yet he’s still faithful in church. He knows where his power comes from.

Christian, how do you treat the elderly? Do you show them respect or do you make fun of them, young person? How do you treat your parents? It does not matter how old you are, it is never right to dishonor them. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) (Eph 6:2) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. (Eph 6:3) I look at Hollywood and how many “stars” have died at a very young age. Their parents have been dishonored by their child’s wicked choices and God’s judgment was fulfilled because they dishonored them. Do you honor your parents? If you do, the Word says that it will be well with you and you will have long life. How do you treat them? How do you speak to them in front of others? Do you speak badly about them? How do you care for them? Do you place them on the pedestal of honor? Can God look at your parents and see you right beside them giving them a helping hand? These verses don’t say to honor your parents only when they are good parents. One of the best testimonies I have seen along these lines is of a dear friend of mine. His parents are not saved nor do they display affection toward their children. In fact, they dislike my friend because he is saved and takes a stand against sin. However, he does not let their hatred of the Word of God to stand in his way of honoring them. His father is now in a home and this friend takes care of his mother’s house. He makes sure her driveway is shoveled, her house is painted, and all those other chores. He has two homes he is maintaining but he never complains. He has other siblings in the area but he is the one that his mother can count on. I don’t know whether or not she associates his helpfulness with Christ-like behavior, but what a testimony he is for her. That is honoring one’s parents whether they are good parents or not. What a good son he is.

Have your parents died? There are Senior Saints in your church who could sure use some uplifting today. Do your parents live far from you? There are always Seniors Saints in your church whose children also live far away and they would truly appreciate a helping hand mowing grass or shoveling snow. Show your respect to a dear saint today! Sit back and enjoy their stories – I can assure you that you will walk away truly blessed.

Dear God…
I thank You for the Senior Saints
I’ve met along the way
Their wisdom and great counsel
Bring much blessings to my day

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The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water: therefore leave off contention, before it be meddled with. (Pro 17:14) Imagine with me this morning a dam with a small leak. The water slowly trickles out until the hole becomes bigger and bigger. Eventually, disaster strikes and the raging waters flow wreaking havoc in its path. I liken arguing to flood waters. The more we desire to prove our point, the more the argument escalates. Eventually this argument becomes a full-blown fight and the flood gates have been opened. Words are said that should not have been said. Sadly, these words cannot be taken back because they have already caused the damage and pain. They produce a flood of turmoil and it takes days, sometimes weeks, to clean up the mess we’ve made. Oh the havoc we wreak with our mouths! If only we would glean from the Word of God and apply God’s counsel to our lives. We would keep ourselves out of trouble.

A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. (Pro 15:1) The effects of an argument are not the same if you are the only one involved. Therefore, heed God’s Word and give a soft answer. If someone criticizes you, how can they be angry with the response, “I’m sorry if I have offended you. I’ll try not to do that again.” Or even, “Forgive me for that, I was not aware of how much this bothered you.” Sadly, too many Christians today think that they have “arrived” as a human being when they can tell somebody off or put someone in their place. This is not Christ-like nor does the Lord exhort us to be this way. When Christ was being mocked, He did not give them a piece of His mind.

Our harsh words will only stir up anger in the other person and fuel our own. It will allow the flood gates to open up and damage what is precious to us. It takes more of a man (or woman) to control his tongue than to speak his mind. [To the chief Musician, even to Jeduthun, A Psalm of David.] I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me. (Psa 39:1) Be careful! One’s character is revealed as he speaks his mind. I have never seen this verse better put into action than in the life of my own Pastor. No one could possibly start an argument with him even if they tried. He does not argue back. Every kind word I have heard about him has included how gentle and kind he is. He can be assertive when the need arises but he has never allowed anger to rule his tongue.

Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; (Heb 12:15) I especially love this verse because it goes with the flooding theme of today’s devotional. The root of bitterness springs up within us and the devil uses it to his advantage. The devil says, “Go ahead, speak your mind – let him have it, he deserves to be put in his place.” The devils loves it when he can cause us to concentrate on our own feelings and he stirs up that bitter root within us. Can you have an argument if your heart isn’t bitter?

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. (Phi 2:3) If we truly believed this verse and applied it to our lives, what would be the outcome of arguments that come our way? One who esteems the other better than himself will not be quick to tear down the other but will be totally interested in healing the conflict. He will carefully choose his words because he is esteeming that person more than himself. Would you like to be on the receiving end of hurtful words? Of course not. So if you esteem the other better than yourself, you will not be quick to speak hurtful words.

I once heard a message using a tube of toothpaste as an analogy for arguing. As impossible as it is to put toothpaste back into its tube, it’s just as impossible to take back those words that should not have been spoken! The damage is done – the words have been spoken and can never be taken back. The toothpaste is everywhere and what a mess it has made. These analogies are great ones and we should take heed to their message to avoid damaging a relationship to the point of no return. Sadly, we hurt the ones we are closest to – why that is, I’ll never know. Is it because we are most comfortable with them and feel free to speak our minds? Rather than be this way, we should think the opposite – we should be so comfortable with them that we want to be even more careful not to speak our minds for fear of hurting them.

Is losing a friend or loved one worth speaking your mind? A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle. (Pro 18:19) Wouldn’t it be better to choose your words carefully and save that relationship? My friend, if you repeatedly hurt the same person with your words, you chance losing that friend. God is only trying to help us through His Word. It’s so important to place into action and apply what we read so that we may glean the “good” that God intends for us. If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. (Jam 1:26) As born-again Christians, we should be shining examples to those around us of how we are doers of the Word and not hearers only.

Dear God…
Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer. (Psa 19:14)

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… The beloved of the LORD shall dwell in safety by him; and the LORD shall cover him all the day long, and he shall dwell between his shoulders. (Deu 33:12) The storms of life can sometimes feel as overwhelming as this picture, can’t they? The tumultuous waves all around us seem to want to swallow us up. If we look at our circumstances, we can easily become discouraged – yes, even depressed. Remember that the same God who caused the seas to calm in Mark 4:39 can give you His divine protection through the storms of your life? I love the account of Peter wanting to walk on the water to meet Jesus. Read it with me:

But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. (Mat 14:30)

And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? (Mat 14:31)

The storms of our lives will swallow us up if we focus on the circumstances and not on Christ. It happened to Peter. He started out well but the moment he took his eyes of Jesus, he began to sink. The Holy Spirit knew what He was doing when He placed this account in the Word! He knew that each of us would turn to this account during the storms of our lives. Notice in Mat 14:31, Jesus immediately stretched forth His hand to Peter. Our Wonderful Lord and Saviour didn’t wait a minute or two to “teach Peter a lesson” but responded immediately! This is a beautiful example of divine protection.

As the storms of our lives rage about us, we need to remember that our Divine Protector is there to guide us, to help us, to encourage us. [A Psalm of David.] The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Psa 27:1) Who and what do we have to fear when God is our light in the midst of the storm? Where do you turn when you are in need of help? Do you go to your Divine Protector or do you run to your spouse, your friend or your parents? If you run to a “fleshly” source, you will receive “fleshly” help. But if you run to the Divine Protector, you will receive divine help.

[To the chief Musician for the sons of Korah, A Song upon Alamoth.] God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (Psa 46:1) Again, our God is our very refuge and strength, my friend!! Even better, He is our present help! The Lord does not delay His help – His help is ever present – always there to give us!

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. (Psa 91:1) I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. (Psa 91:2) Dear Christian, are you dwelling in the secret place of the most High? When we are in that secret place, the storms that are raging outside are not a bother because we abide under the Almighty’s shadow! This is the place we need to be when those storms are raging! When you walk through a storm and come out from under your umbrella, you experience that storm to its fullest. As long as you stay under that umbrella, you are protected. As we stay in the Almighty’s shadow, we are protected from the storms. The minute we come out from under His umbrella of protection, we are exposed and the devil is as a roaring lion seeking whom he can devour!

Oh Christian, hearken unto the Lord this day and dwell in His shadow – in safety from the storms of life. But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil. (Pro 1:33)

Under His Wings
William O. Cushing

Under His wings, under His wings,
Who from His love can sever?
Under His wings my soul shall abide,
Safely abide forever.

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And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them. (Isa 42:16)

John Newton spoke his heart when he penned the words to Amazing Grace.

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.

This first verse shows a man that was lost and blind as he walked the world’s path to a Christless eternity in hell. It also shows the beautiful transformation that took place when Christ entered this same man’s heart and this man was led down a new path. This man now had a new direction in his life – he was no longer lost. He also found that he was no longer blind. There now was light shining on his path pointing him in the direction he should go. Do you get the impression that John Newton spent time with the Lord? Do you think he found the direction he needed in his Bible?

The Lord does this same thing in each believer’s life. All we have to do is read His Word and we will see how God’s character shines through in this area. God desires to direct us and lead us. He does not want His children to walk about blindly not knowing which way to turn. Do you have life changing decisions you need to make? Do you worry about your future and what is in store for you? You need not be. God’s promises are written in the Word for our encouragement. We can depend on Him to keep His promises. He’s not a man that He should lie (Num. 23:19 and 1 Sam 15:29).

I hope you are blessed by the verses I’m sharing with you today. Please, take the time to read each of them and let the Holy Spirit fill your heart with confidence. You do not have a Father who will fail you and lead you down the wrong path. Our Heavenly Father is perfect and loves His children – His desire is to light our way and clearly guide us. We need to learn to acknowledge just Who we are serving and allow Him to show us His will and the direction that He sees is best for us.

To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. (Luk 1:79) Our God guides even the lost to a place where they can hear the plan of salvation – how much more will He guide us?

NUN. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. (Psa 119:105) In the midst of the pages of our blessed Bible, we find answers to questions which directly impact our path.

The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple. (Psa 119:130) As we read and meditate on the Word, they enter our hearts and help us to understand God’s direction.

Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me. (Psa 119:133) Sin darkens our path when it reigns in our lives. But the light of the Word overpowers this darkness.

If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; (Psa 139:9) Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. (Psa 139:10) No matter how desperate our situation may be, the Father’s hand is right there waiting to hold us and guide us. Doesn’t this remind you of the Footprints in the Sand story? I can envision this in my mind’s eye right now, can’t you?

The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. (Psa 37:23) When a Christian is striving to live a godly life, his steps are ordered by God. This verse says that God delights in this Christian – like a father delights in his child when his child is obedient and doing right. We cannot be perfect and sinless but we can strive toward the mark.

I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. (Psa 32:8 ) God’s eye is ever on us, oh Christian. How wonderful is that? How comforting is that? God sees what we’re doing and where we’re going. He guides us through His Word. No Bible, no direction – Know the Bible, know direction!

The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way. (Psa 25:9) We cannot be taught if we do not yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit. Yielding does not have the connotation of simply reading the Word but reading and applying what God teaches us.

Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. (Psa 73:24) God guides us using many forms – His Word, the Pastor, and even wise friends.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. (Psa 23:3) Our souls have been restored through the precious work of the Cross. Jesus Christ’s own blood has been shed for our sins and has restored fellowship between man and his God. To this child is a promise that his Heavenly Father will be a leader to him and will show him how to live that holy life that He commands us to live. … Be ye holy; for I am holy (1 Pet 1:16)

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. (Joh 16:13) My friend, we possess this Holy Spirit of truth. He resides within each of us. We have the wonderful opportunity of daily tapping into this truth. This truth will guide us and direct us on our Pilgrim’s path!!

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. (Pro 3:5) In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (Pro 3:6) When we turn to our own thoughts and logic, we can easily be distracted and misguided because we are fallible. Our sinless and Holy God can be trusted because He is infallible. He has never failed, my friend! NEVER! Is this not enough encouragement for you? When we trust our unfailing Father, He provides yet another promise of directing our path.

And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not. (Isa 58:11) Don’t you feel yourself sitting beside a babbling brook right about now? Do you hear those birds chirping and the crickets? Your thirsty soul needs to drink from that Fountain. God awaits to fill you in His Word.

I pray these verses have encouraged you today to turn to God for His direction for your life. He knows what is best – He has seen the future and can guide you in the here and now! And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left. (Isa 30:21) Do you hear His still small voice, my friend? He longs to speak to you and guide you. Once again, get in the Word and you’ll find Him there – He’s waiting.

Dear God…
Guide me down Your path I pray
That path You chose for me
Shine Your blessed light so bright
So clearly I may see

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If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work. (2 Tim. 2:21) That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; (1 Thess 4:4) We are sanctified when we are born again because of Jesus’ finished work on the cross. However, every day we should be growing in Christ, as we study and learn from His Word. I love the message God gives us through the life of a butterfly. While in its cocoon, the butterfly struggles to be free. To watch it struggling, one is tempted to help this butterfly along. But in so doing, we deprive that butterfly of the strength it gains during its struggle. Helping it only kills it. So is the Christian. We need the struggles in our Christian walk so we can turn to the Word and allow it to heal us. The more we break free from sin, we become conformed to Christ’s image. We can rid ourselves of the sin that so easily besets us and be set free like the butterfly.

Noah Webster defines sanctification as “The act of making holy.” God commands us to be holy as He is holy.

Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God. (Lev 20:7)

But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; (1 Pet 1:15)

Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. (1 Pet 1:16)

I found it interesting that this statement from God is found three times in the Word. Our Three-in-One God is a holy God. We will never reach a perfected state of holiness in this lifetime but we are to be a constant “work in progress” as we walk this Pilgrim’s path on earth. We sanctify ourselves through our daily time spent in the Word. The Word then washes us as we apply its applications to our lives. That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, (Eph 5:26) We can read the Bible faithfully every day – but without applying it to our lives, it is of no value. A police officer can look at body armor all he wants and admire how it can protect his body from bullets. However, the body armor does him no good if he does not put it on for protection.

The Word of God is just not for reading, my friend. The Word convicts the heart of sin. If we do nothing with that conviction, what good is it? The Word is truth and leads us in the path of becoming more like the Father, thus fulfilling His command to be holy as He is holy. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. (Joh 17:17)

Jesus was our perfect example of One who practiced sanctification. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. (Joh 17:19) As we study the Word and learn about Jesus and how He lived His life, we learn of His meekness, His faithfulness and His love. We learn how His desire was to seek the Father’s will and not His own. So should we, as children of the Living God, work diligently weeding out sin in our lives. The more we work to be more like Christ, the more sanctified (set apart) we will become. That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; (1 Thess 4:4) Emphasis mine. We are to know how to do this. We cannot know without being in the Word!

This is the difference between a Christian who is moving forward in his spiritual walk and one that is at a stand still. Twice Paul spoke of those who were still babes in Christ because they did not get into the meat of the Word – they were still drinking milk. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. (1 Cor 3:2) For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. (Heb 5:12)

My friend, repentance brings forth sanctification. One cannot say he is growing in Christ if he is continuing in the same sin. Are you struggling with a particular sin? Until you have forsaken it, you cannot grow more into the image of Christ. I truly believe that many Christians have become complacent to their sin and are satisfied with living with known sin. They live a life of delusion and they will not be a vessel meet for the Master’s use. What kind of vessel are you today? Are you enjoying a Christian life sanctifying yourself daily so the Master can use you? Or are you satisfied with the way you are now, not interested in setting yourself apart from the world? Only you can answer this and only you can change the answer.

Dear God…
May the complacent be pierced today
May he see his sin as You do
Help him to sanctify himself
So that he may better serve You.

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Are you known to be a confident Christian? Where does your confidence rest? In what does your confidence rest? Is your confidence based on the promises of others? Do you have your future carefully planned and laid out? Everyone knows that “life happens” and these carefully laid out plans can quickly change in the twinkling of an eye. However, there is one thing our confidence can be based on and it will never change and that is God’s promises.

Because we are born-again children of God, we have a new covenant with God which states that His promises are never to be broken. But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. (Heb 8:6) My friend, isn’t it wonderful that we can rest in God’s promises? The promises of God are many in His Word. But let us encourage our hearts that He who is our Creator and holds our salvation in the palm of His hand will fulfill each and every promise! Read with me this morning and be grateful that God’s covenant with you does not rest in your feelings but in His promises!!

God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? (Num 23:19)

Blessed be the LORD, that hath given rest unto his people Israel, according to all that he promised: there hath not failed one word of all his good promise, which he promised by the hand of Moses his servant. (1 Kings 8:56)

And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee. (Psa 9:10)

He hath remembered his covenant for ever, the word which he commanded to a thousand generations. (Psa 105:8 )

… yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it. (Isa 46:11b)

And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. (Rom 4:21)

That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises. (Heb 6:12)

Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (2Pe 1:4)

Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. (2Pe 3:13)

And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life. (1Jo 2:25)

How can one not have confidence when God has made these promises? He does not lie, therefore, each will be fulfilled! Praise ye the Lord!

Dear God…
Thank You for Your promises
There are so many in Your Word
They are not based upon man’s ways
But our covenant with Christ our Lord

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I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. (Psa 32:8 ) I’m sure we can all say that we’ve been to a similar cross-roads in our life, can’t we? I know I can. It seems like just when I thought I was on the right path, the rug was pulled from underneath me and wham! I didn’t know in which direction I should go! Or just when life was smooth sailing and there were no obstacles in the road, hurdles arose and I felt like my world was falling apart!

I’m so thankful for my salvation! I’m so thankful for God’s Holy Word which encourages my heart through these obstacles and hurdles and shows me that my Heavenly Father loves me and will help me through these difficult times. And you know what, my friend? He’s there waiting to do the same for you! Our Heavenly Father loves us so much! He does not want to see us in a state of confusion. The Christian needs to be a testimony to a lost and dying world. The world is confused and they are the ones that need direction. How can we show them the way if we are living in confusion? How can we be a testimony to them if we do not have the peace that passes all understanding?

Prov. 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. (5) In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (6) What do you “look” like when you’re going through trials and tribulations? What does the world see in you when your life is filled with confusion? Do you look like our friend here? Or are you secure in the Lord, knowing that He will work out every situation in your life? There is no greater testimony than when the world sees us rise above chaos. They don’t understand how we can do it. Are you going through family problems right now? How are you dealing with it? Are you going to work complaining to your unsaved friends at work? Or do they see you calm and collected because you started your day off with the Lord and laid those cares at His feet?

Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved. (Psa 55:22) Our Father wants to be there for us and He is there for us. He is able and desiring to take on our burdens. Don’t you want your children to come to you with their cares? You would hate it if you knew they were keeping everything inside and they were miserable, wouldn’t you? Our God says to cast our burdens on Him and He shall (not maybe) sustain us! The Lord does not stop there either! He continues on to say that He shall never allow the righteous to be moved! Notice this refers to the righteous. None of us are righteous. All our righteousness are as filthy rags according to: But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. (Isa 64:6) But because of our salvation, Jesus’ righteousness is what the Father sees. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: (1 Co 1:30) When we abide in Him and in His Word, the Lord encourages our hearts. We cannot do it apart from the Word of God, my friend. Without spending time in the Bible, one cannot expect to be encouraged in a time of confusion.

God wants to give us strength through the wisdom of the Word. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. (Isa 40:29) If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. (Jam 1:5) How can you pass a test without studying? How can you know the end of that novel you’re reading without first reading it? How can you glean from the blessings of the promises in the Word when you don’t spend time searching for them? A baby can only drink milk for so long. He then must move on to baby food then solid food. Without this natural progression, the baby will grow very slowly and will be sickly. Paul compared believers in this same light. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. (Heb 5:13) My friend, God says you are “unskilful” in the Bible because you are a spiritual baby. Does this not shame you? It should!

There are so many promises in God’s Word to the believer. Confusion should not be part of our daily lives – instead we should have peace because we have given our cares to the One who not only can handle them but can solve every problem. God waits to show us the way to go. We don’t have to go down the path of confusion. God’s way may not always be clear but His way always brings peace if we go to the one map that guides us without error – the Bible. I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. (Psa 32:8 )

Dear God…
Help me be a testimony
To the lost who are watching me
May confusion turn to bless-ed peace
And be a witness to them of Thee

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Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD. (Psa 27:14) How I love Noah Webster’s definition of courage!

COURAGE, n. [L., the heart.] Bravery; intrepidity; that quality of mind which enables men to encounter danger and difficulties with firmness, or without fear or depression of spirits; valor; boldness; resolution. It is a constituent part of fortitude; but fortitude implies patience to bear continued suffering. 

Courage that grows from constitution, often forsakes a man when he has occasion for it; courage which arises from a sense of duty, acts in a uniform manner.

Be strong and of good courage. Deu 31.

Doing a search of the phrase “good courage” yielded a goldmine for me! I hope you are blessed as well. God’s Word clearly defines “courage” and portrays that we can only have courage through God.

Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. (Deu 31:6) Emphasis mine.

Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest. (Jos 1:9) Emphasis mine.

And Joshua said unto them, Fear not, nor be dismayed, be strong and of good courage: for thus shall the LORD do to all your enemies against whom ye fight. (Jos 10:25) Emphasis mine.

And David said to Solomon his son, Be strong and of good courage, and do it: fear not, nor be dismayed: for the LORD God, even my God, will be with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of the house of the LORD. (1 Ch 28:20) Emphasis mine.

Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD. (Psa 31:24) Emphasis mine.

Dear Christian, do these verses not encourage your heart? How can we fear what lies before us when God stresses over and over in His Word how He will not fail us or forsake us? Are you dealing with belligerent unsaved loved ones? What about co-workers who mock your stand? Are you chastised by the lost because you share what God’s Word has to say about homosexuality, adultery, or fornication? Do even other believers shake their heads at you for your stand on the King James Bible? Is the battle for the Lord becoming weary? Be of good courage and take heart! And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. (Luk 21:28 ) Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. (Jam 5:8 )

It won’t be long before our battle is over, my friend. Have courage – be strong – it won’t be long before we are with our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ! And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: (Rev 22:3) And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. (Rev 22:4)

Dear God…
Be strong and of good courage
Your Word so clearly states
Help me be obedient
As each battle I await

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Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
(2 Tim 2:15)

For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. (Rom 10:11)

Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments. (Psa 119:6)

Let my heart be sound in thy statutes; that I be not ashamed. (Psa 119:80)

How many Christians go through the day without the Word of God as part of it? How many Christians can say that when situations arise, a Bible verse comes to mind to cover that situation? If one does not read the Bible, one cannot be prepared to tackle the day’s challenges. It is like going to a meeting unprepared and you are the presenter! Can you imagine how foolish you would look – how you would feel?

Dear brethren, if you do not make the Bible part of your every day life, you will look and feel as foolish when you stand before God. 2 Tim. 2:15 says that you are to study so that you can become a workman that doesn’t need to be ashamed. Noah Webster defines ashamed as:

1. Affected by shame; abashed or confused by guilt or a conviction of some criminal action or indecorous conduct, or by the exposure of some gross errors or misconduct, which the person is conscious must be wrong, and which tends to impair his honor or reputation. It is followed by of.

Thou shalt remember thy ways, and be ashamed. Exo 16.

Israel shall be ashamed of his own counsel. Hosea 10.

2. Confused by a consciousness of guilt or of inferiority; by the mortification of pride; by failure or disappointment.

They shall be greatly ashamed, that trust in images.

Isa 42

If you are guilty of neglecting your Bible, do you feel this shame Noah speaks of? A speaker at a meeting is only as good as the knowledge he has on the subject he’s covering. If he is unprepared, it is evident. He hums and hahs, he stumbles and stutters. However, when a speaker is totally prepared, he belts out a presentation like nobody’s business and has confidence in his knowledge. Are you struggling with winning the lost to Christ? You’re not prepared! You have not spent the time you need to memorize the verses.

Today’s sports fanatics have player stats memorized. They can tell you who threw the longest pass at the last Super Bowl. They can quote you how many home runs and runs batted in that their favorite baseball player has. However, ask them to share Bible verses with you that would be significant in leading someone to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and they look at you as if you have two heads! Oh dear Christian, if this is you – you will stand ashamed before the Lord Jesus Christ. My heart aches for you.

As if this isn’t bad enough, what do you do when a trial comes your way and you don’t have the Word hidden in your heart to turn to for rescue and encouragement? You don’t have to know the address and verse by heart but at least you know it enough to be able to say, oh yes, Psalm 121 tells me to look unto the hills from whence cometh my help! So I will turn to the Lord to help me with this situation. Instead, you run to your best friend or a church member and plead for prayer. What if your doctor had to run to his co-workers for help in decisions about your health? Wouldn’t that disturb you? Can you imagine how the Lord feels when we run to others when He is the One true source of all healing and encouragement?

I believe that when believers stand before Christ when their works are tried by fire to see if they are wood and stubble or silver and gold, that they will be hanging their heads in shame – tears welling up in their eyes, wishing they could do it all over again. My friend, when our time is up, there is no going back. The signs of the times are all around us. Christ’s return for us is imminent – any minute we’ll be called Home! Are you ready or will you be ashamed?

Dear God…
My heart aches for those who fail
To spend time in Your Holy Word
How can they manage the daily trials
Without having their Shield and Sword

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For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Pet 1:8 )

When we buy our fruit in the grocery store, we don’t stop to think about where the fruit came from or the work it took the fruit farmer to get that fruit to us. A tree can only produce plenty of fruit – good fruit – when it is properly cared for and has all the right “ingredients.” It needs the right amount of sunshine, rain, fertilizer and pruning. A healthy tree produces a good crop of fruit.

It is the same with our Christian lives. Without the Son-shine in our lives, we cannot bear fruit. Without Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour, we cannot possibly be fruitful nor can we make it without Him. Without getting to know Him better through the Word of God, we cannot grow. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. (Joh 15:5) At times we need pruning so we can be more fruitful. Pruning comes in various ways – through trials, through the Word, and even through the preaching. A tree doesn’t have much choice but to be pruned. But we do! We don’t have to allow the Lord to prune us. However, when we don’t, we can be sure we will not grow properly. We won’t produce the fruit we could produce.

Psalm 1:2-3, But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. (2) And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. (3)

Notice that verse 3 says that his leaf shall not wither. If I water my plants regularly, they stay looking nice. If I miss a week, however, the leaves start to droop and they “scream” for water. So should Christians scream for the living water of the Word. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (Joh 7:38 )

Dear God…
As I start my day with You
And feed my hungry soul
You water my thirsty heart
And make my spirit whole

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