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When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things. Psalm 104:28

Growing up I remember listening to a Pastor’s wife telling a group of us about her years growing up as a ‘Missionary Kid’. Her father was the pastor of a small struggling church and her mother worked at a nearby hospital that was run by a larger church in the area. Her parents were not missionaries to some obscure remote jungle area where they lived in complete isolation. It was a Western European country with a standard of living much like her homeland of the United States of America.

She told, with humor now, about some of the things the family received from very well meaning people in the states. Christmas presents for the kids that were obviously used and sometimes broken, clothes with holes in them and two or three sizes larger than the sizes asked for ‘so the kids could grow into them, and other similar stories. The two that stuck in my head were the box of used tea bags from a dear prayer warrior who attached a note saying she’d only used them once!

Another time a package arrived with sheets in them that were full of holes and of no value for the beds. “Mom and Dad figured that the women’s group from this particular church sent them thinking that they could be used for bandages since that is all some missionaries had for bandages in the early 20th century.” So they sent off a note thanking the women for the bandages (and promptly cut them up for rags!). Months later they received a letter from a friend in that same church telling the truth about the ‘bandages’. These were sheets that a couple of the church women had gathered to send to the family to use on their beds because “they still had some value!”

God gives us good gifts! The things He provides for us aren’t used, leftovers or discarded pieces of trash no one else wanted. He knows us. He knows what we need. As a loving Father He gives us just what we will have to have to make it through the day.

The Psalmist writes, in Psalm 102 that ‘You open your hand and they are satisfied with good things.’ That reminds me of the time in the wilderness when God provided Manna for the children of Israel. We still are not sure what manna was. What we know is that it tasted good and supplied nourishment for over a million people for forty years (along with the quail).

There was another interesting thing about the Manna. The people of Israel could go out and gather and eat as much Manna as they wanted and eat to their hearts content. But if they gathered too much it was rotten in the morning.

God’s lesson for them is the same as His lesson for us. He gives us just what we need for today. We can count on the fact that tomorrow He’ll do the same; and the day after that; and the day after that. There was no reason for the Israelites to worry about what they would eat tomorrow. When tomorrow came the manna would be there.

God gives good gifts. God gives us all we need to make it through today. There will be bumps along the way. There will be times we aren’t sure we’ll make it another day. But He has our tomorrows covered and He’ll strengthen us for the tasks of today if we trust in Him. God loves us.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, Creator sustainer of the entire universe. I thank you today for your provision. During those times when I fear the future or don’t understand today I praise You for the fact that I can look in the rear-view mirror and see how you have provided for my every need with good things. Things I needed, not necessarily wanted. Help me to live this day resting in the promise of your good and faithful provision. Amen.

Israel is no stronger than its capital, Samaria, and Samaria is no stronger than its king, Pekah son of Remaliah. Unless your faith is firm, I cannot make you stand firm.” Isaiah 7:9 (NLT)

“Unless your faith is firm, I cannot make you stand firm.” It’s a short little phrase stuck in the middle of an important part of Israel’s history. King Ahaz had to make a decision. Would he really put his faith in God and stand firm against the enemies that wanted to destroy Israel or would he put his trust in a neighboring countries power?

In the midst of his emotional and mental struggle God said “Go ahead. Ask me to show you a sign of what you should do and what will happen.” It was a crisis of faith for the King. Where was his true allegiance? Ahaz chose not to ask for the sign. In the end he trusted the neighboring power rather than the God of heaven and his kingdom was ripped from his hands.

Each of us must choose where our true allegiance is. It’s a daily decision, even a moment by moment decision. The enemy wants us to doubt who is really in control. It happened in the Garden of Eden, “Did God REALLY say you’d die?” It happened in during Jesus time on earth when He visited His hometown and the Bible tells us “He did no miracles there because of their unbelief”.

As Christ-followers we must always remember that God’s way is the best way. We must measure each of our actions according to what God wants and allow Him to determine the outcome by His power. God CAN do anything we ask but He requires that we first trust Him to do what is best for us, even if His best seems detrimental at the time.

There will be bumps along the road. There are going to be forks in the journey with confusing sign posts directing you along the way. As you grow closer to Christ, through obedience and knowledge of His word, He will show you the path to take. Don’t be afraid to ask Him. Don’t impatiently take action on your own.

Never forget that the Creator God of the universe loves you and wants you to experience all He has for you. He will never leave you. He will never forsake you. But you need to make that first step. Each of us needs to make a conscious decision to trust Him above all else and actively believe that He can and will see you through life’s obstacles. That’s what His love is all about.

PRAYER: Father God, I acknowledge that you are the creator and sustainer of the universe. I believe that you have all things in control. But I confess to you that there are many times during my day when I am faced with a choice to follow my own wisdom or ask you for direction. This almost always takes me down the wrong path. Forgive me for living in fear. Forgive me for following my heart and not what I know to be true. Help me to stand firm and step out in faith, truly believing that You can and will accomplish great things if I let You have control of my life. Amen.

Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly. Psalm 5:3 (NLT)

The first few minutes of our day can determine how the rest of the day goes. If we wake up excited about the possibilities before us our mood can be happy, and positive. If we awaken to worries and fears about the tasks before us we can be tense and tentative in all we do.

Our attitude about the day can determine how we talk to our children and those we love, how or what we eat, and how we drive in rush hour traffic. Those opening moments just after our eyes open lay the foundation for how we act, react, think and speak!

Nutritionists tell us that breakfast is the most important meal of the day because it prepares the body physically for what lays ahead. Spiritually speaking, spending some time with Jesus as you start your day can make all the difference in the world in how you feel emotionally, spiritually and physically. Take a little time for Jesus before you even get out of bed.

In Psalm 5 David spends most of his time writing about his enemies. People around him are lying about him, criticizing him, questioning his every move. He’s being beaten up and spit out by a bunch of unnamed adversaries’ intent on making sure his life is miserable.

Before he even gets out of bed he speaks to his Lord about the day’s events. He’s not afraid to ask right from the start that God would intervene in the day’s activities. David knew something that each of us must remember: God knows our tomorrows and passionately desires to walk through life with us moment by moment. He listens to each word that is said to us, by us and about us. He watches each attack with interest because He won’t allow us to go through more than we can handle.

David not only begins his day by telling God his concerns, he resolves from the very start to ‘wait expectantly’. David does something here that each of us should strive for. He waits patiently for God’s answer to come forth. It’s not a question of ‘IF’ God will answer. David fully expects that God will take care of the things that need taking care of.

When we are being attacked by others or our own feelings of failure and worthlessness, it’s too easy to pray idle words without really expecting God to act. The book of Acts tells the story of a group of people praying for Peter’s deliverance from prison. When God answered their prayers they didn’t believe it!

Pray with the expectation that God will answer. It’s not a question of ‘if’ but when and how. Sometimes the answer we get won’t be what we want, but if we believe that our Father loves us and only wants what is best for us, then we must patiently wait with expectation for His answer and trust Him to guide us through.

Remember, YOU are God’s number one! You are a child of THE King. He already knows what your day holds for you. Talk to Him first thing in the morning and let Him handle the rest.

PRAYER: Good morning Jesus. As you know I’m worried about today. I want to thank you for seeing me through the night. Thank you for the many, many blessings you have bestowed upon me. Forgive me for the times I’ve forgotten to notice how you’ve taken care of me in the past. Help me now to patiently wait for you to take care of the things that are troubling me. I now place into your hands all the things that I’m worried about. I trust you. Amen.

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD. Psalm 40:2-3

When I was growing up I lived in the country. Our house was located on the end of a long dirt driveway that became a mud hole in the spring. We’d end up parking our car at the end of the driveway and trudging through the mud to get home. Good boots were a requirement! Even so, there were times when we’d walk through a spot where the mud was especially deep. If you stepped on that spot it was almost as if is sucked your foot into the ground and refused to let go. As young children we would, at times need to call for help to get out of that oozing mess!

In Psalm 42 David talks about being in a slimy pit. He is helpless and hopeless to get out. The walls of his prison are steep and slimy so that whenever he tries to climb out he slides back down into the mass of slime on the bottom there is no way out. There is no hope.

But God came to his rescue. God lifted him from the slime and place him on solid ground, on a rock that would never waver, never fail him. David was able to raise above all that tried to keep him trapped. His God given ability to rise above the despair caused others to take notice and to put their faith in God.

There are many reasons we can feel like we are trapped in a pit of mud and slime. Sometimes our own sin fills us with such guilt and shame we don’t feel we can go on. It could be that we are in an abusive relationship and see no way out. Finances, illness, broken relationships, unemployment or underemployment all add to our sense of despair. But Jesus came to help you out of the pit. He sees your struggle and wants to help you onto the solid ground of faith in him. He alone can help you rise about the struggles, the shame, the guilt, and the failures of your life.

Each of us kids were so glad to get through the muddy spots of our driveway! At the end of that muck was dry ground and safety. Today, Jesus reaches out to you and invites you to let Him pull you out of the despair in your life. Ask Him to place you on solid ground so that you can have a new song to sing to those who need to hear the good news of Jesus.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, I thank you for your love and forgiveness. Today I feel like I’m sinking fast in this pit of mud and slime. The walls seem impossible to scale. I ask that you would forgive me for my part in getting into this mess. Help me to listen to you and not my accusers. Place in me the new song you promised me so others can know your deliverance and love. Amen.

Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close. Psalm 27:10 (NLT)

There lies in the heart of each of us a desire to be loved and to be wanted. That inner confidence that we know we are needed and that if we were gone, someone would miss us. The peace of knowing someone cares and that when everyone else turns their back on us, there is at least one person we can turn to for a heartfelt hug, a shoulder to cry on and a listening ear.

For many of people that’s what family is for. Family is that one foundation, that one cornerstone that throughout history has proven itself to be the most consistent, reliable and faithful place to find love, acceptance and understanding.

Friends move or find other interests. Marriages, some of which have lasted almost half a century, end in divorce and send children of any age reeling and seeking answers. Illnesses, emotional distress, financial ruin, greed all take their toll. But family is always supposed to be there for us.

In David’s Psalm of praise (Psalm 27) he recounts the many ways that God can be trusted and praised. Friends can fail us. We have adversaries that seek our demise. Brothers can turn on you and tell you how embarrassed they are to have you as a sibling. Sometimes even parents can turn their backs on you when you don’t meet up to their own lofty expectations.

But God is there. Have you ever been in a crowd of people you know and still feel lonely? Have you ever reached out for someone to talk to and found everyone too busy to really listen? Have you ever made a decision that was so repulsive that even your family excludes you from their circle?

Know this. Your Heavenly Father hears your cries in the night even when it seems your prayers don’t go past the ceiling. During those lonely times He feels the same knot in your stomach. His heart sinks when He sees how you are treated. No one. Not friends, family, your lover, no one understands like Jesus. He is your friend in the midst of the darkest hour.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus. There are times in my life when I’m so full of loneliness and despair that I’m not sure I can go on. No one seems to understand me or listen to me or care if I’m even around. There are times I confess I don’t even think you care. Help me this day to know that you love me with all the scars, with all the bruises, with all the issues that pull me down. I love you. Help me to feel your love. Amen.

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