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For surely, O LORD, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield. Psalm 5:12

One of the best things we can do when we read the Bible is to place ourselves in the right mindset. When we read the Bible as a group of stories we can miss the whole point of its purpose. The Bible is not merely a ‘bunch of stories’ but a journal of the lives of men and women, like ourselves, that had to deal with daily stress, relational crises and physical pain.

Reading the Psalms give an excellent example of this. These ‘songs’ written largely by King David are full of emotions that run the gamut from despair and agony to elation and victory. Sometimes all within the span of a few ‘verses’.

Psalm 5 is no exception. In this prayer of David we see him laying in bed in the morning pleading with God for an audience. He is in despair. He is in fear. He is desperately seeking direction. He is a victim of the lies and assaults (verbal most likely) of those who claimed at one time to be friends.

In the course of his prayer he seems to remind God that He is a God of justice and that as such evil is not tolerated. He begs God to execute that judgment upon the evil ones attacking him. He asks that they be banished for the injustice they have caused.

In the end, almost as though God Himself has whispered in his ear, he looks at his struggles with a different attitude. God, his God, the creator God of the universe ultimately protects those who follow after His commands. His shield of protection follows him wherever he may go.

The same is true for us. If we are following close to God and building a relationship with Him that is built on His grace and our obedience to His word, He will protect us. That doesn’t mean we won’t encounter trials on the way, but it does assure us of His ultimate protection.

Because of this promise we should not be afraid to step out and follow our dreams. Others may point at a million reasons why we may not succeed, but if we are listening to the direction of our Heavenly Father we will overcome. When I am walking with Jesus I need not fear what the enemy throws at me for I am protected!

PRAYER: Father God, like David I lay awake some nights begging for justice and it never seems to come! My enemies are constantly pursuing me. Sometimes those enemies are real. Sometimes they are in my mind and thoughts. Help me to remember that the most important thing I can do is to follow you and trust you to protect me wherever I go. Amen.


Love the Lord your God with all our heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Deuteronomy 6:5-7

 

Learning how to ‘do life’ isn’t done in a vacuum. Who would feel comfortable with a surgeon who told you just before you enter the operating room that “I’ve never really seen a surgery or done one before. but I’ve read lots of books on it and watch Grey’s Anatomy on TV so I think we should be okay.”  

How comfortable would we be as airline passengers if the pilot came on and said, “Okay, now. This should be fun. As soon as I can figure out which button to push to turn the engines on I think we’ll be on our way. I’ve never flown a real plane before, but I had a radio controlled one as a kid. How hard can it be?”

None of us would go to surgery or fly a plane with the above mentioned situation. We are putting our very lives in their hands. We want to know that they will be fully equipped and experienced to handle every situation that may present itself. While not many of us will be pilots or surgeons, the experiences of our lives can have profound effects on those around us without us even being aware of it.

One of the reasons Jesus was such an effective teacher is that He used life experiences to teach eternal truths. It’s in the everyday events of life that we can show those around us the Christ-life. Too often we tend to separate our ‘real life’ with our ‘Christ-life’ but that isn’t reality. Jesus came to live among us to show us that the journey can be long and hard, but that with His power in us we can change our world.

Every situation doesn’t need to have an accompanying sermon or a lecture. As one person said, “Preach Jesus every day and when necessary, use words!” We can show others much more by how we react to situations than they will learn in an entire year of sermons and Bible Studies. The words  you speak, the attitudes you show, and the non-verbal signals you send can be used of God to show others His love.

Each of us has a story. We make mistakes and poor, or just plain stupid decisions. We hurt people. We break relationships. We acquire debt. Don’t dwell on the mistakes you have made in life. Use them as lessons learned; lessons that can be used to lift others up who are struggling, are discouraged or have fallen. The mistakes of our past can be used to help others learn how to walk.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus. I know life is a journey and I’ve taken many side trips and detours that have hurt me and others. Forgive me for the poor choices I’ve made, the people I’ve hurt and the relationships I’ve broken. Help me to use these lessons to lift those who need you. Help me to show them your love. Amen.


When you see the tassels, you will remember and obey all the commands of the LORD instead of following your own desires and defiling yourselves, as you are prone to do. Numbers 15:39 (NLT)

After over 400 years in captivity and 40 years of wandering aimlessly in the wilderness, they were about to enter ‘The Promised Land’! The Lord God was giving His people final instructions before their long journey came to an end.

Of all the many lessons’ the Israelites had learned, the one God hoped they would remember the most is that God’s blessings are hindered by sin. After all, it was sin that forced God’s chosen people to take 40 years to complete what should have been an 11 day walk! It was doubt that caused them to turn back when those sent to ‘spy out the land’ gave them a bad report. It was a lack of trust that sent a bunch of snakes swarming into camp.

If they would walk by faith in God the people of Israel would experience peace and prosperity. They were God’s people. They were set aside by Him to be His chosen ones. He didn’t choose them because of their size, or their strength or their ability to obey. He chose them because He loved them.

In Numbers 15:37-41 the Lord gives His people instructions concerning the clothes they would wear. The garments of the Israelites were to have a fringe sewn on with tassels hanging from the fringe. These would serve two purposes. On the one hand it would be a public symbol that these people were God’s people. Secondly, the tassels would hopefully serve as a reminder to the Israelites that they were to follow God’s laws.

I like the phrasing of the New Living Translation: “instead of following your own desires and defiling yourselves as you are prone to do.”  The word prone means ‘to have a tendency or inclination to do’. The Father knew his children. He knew they would be distracted. He knew that the desires of the world would constantly pull them away. Even though He knew they would fail, and fail miserably, He remained faithful to His promises.

Our heavenly Father is the same today. He knows we will fail. He knows how hard it is four us to live without discouragement, hate, anger, worry, frustration, doubt, addictive tendencies, and the list goes on. But still He calls to us and begs us to come to Him for healing.

What a great and awesome God of love and mercy we serve.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for loving me even though I’m so easily distracted by the world. Keep me in your arms. Empower me to follow your ways. Protect me from temptation and distraction. Help me to live as though there were tassels on my garments that would remind me to follow you and testify to others of your great love. Amen.


So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then, when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived. Numbers 21:9 

The trip through the wilderness had gone on now for 40 years. The people were growing restless. They were tired of manna, tired of quail, tired of having to set up camp and tear down camp. The kids were restless, Grandma and Grandpa were crabby and it was hot! Now, to make matters worse the nation headed back towards the Red Sea! It seemed like they were just going in circles.

 Soon grumbling began. Where was this ‘promised land’ that God had given them? Did Moses really know where he was going and what he was doing? Wasn’t it easier in Egypt? At least they had homes and great Egyptian food!

 When God had heard enough of their complaining he sent snakes among the people. The snake bites killed many of the Israelites. When they realized what was happening the Israelites cried out to Moses for help. God instructed Moses to make a snake out of bronze and put it high on a pole. Anyone who looked to the snake was healed.

 For years afterwards the snake was an icon among the Israelites. It reminded them of God’s deliverance. Jesus speaks about Himself as being like that snake. Anyone who looked on the snake in the wilderness was healed. It didn’t matter who they were or what they had done. The past didn’t matter. The important thing is that they had faith to look to the snake. It was true for those close to the pole and those far away.

The same is true for us today. Our past doesn’t matter. It’s not about gifts and talents and money and all the other things that society tells us we must have to be successful. It’s about looking to Jesus. He alone can heal us from all that afflicts us.

 Are you wandering in the wilderness? Does the journey seem long and hard?  Do you feel you have wandered to far from God? Look to Jesus. He longs to heal you.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus. Just as the Israelites complained during their wilderness I confess that I’m tired of the wandering. Help me to look to you, to keep my eyes above the trials of life and believe you for deliverance. Amen


He took him outside and said, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars–if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Genesis 15:5 

It had been years since Abram left his homeland for the new life promised him by the God of Heaven. Although his father had died a few years earlier, Abram had been blessed. His flocks had increased, the land was fruitful and he had peace with those around him.

 In spite of all that, there was one thing that continued to bother Abram. He and his wife Sarai were still waiting for the promise of children. Having no children to carry on his name was a huge disappointment! Where was God’s promise? How would he be the father of a great nation when he had no children of his own?

 One day, God visited Abram and reminded him of the promise. He told Abram that He would protect him and guide him. But Abraham complained to the Lord, “What reward can you give me for my future? I have no children to pass on my legacy to. My fortune will be turned over to my servants.” Abraham was NOT happy.

 So God took Abram outside the tent. He said to Abram. Look at the stars Abram. Someday your children will be as many as the stars of the heaven. Abram, I promise you. Someday your offspring will be so many that you won’t be able to count them!

 Even though he’d been waiting a long time, Abram believed God. From that point forward, whenever he went outside at night and saw the stars he was reminded that God was there and that someday the promised son would come. Perhaps that alone was what helped Abram and his wife endure the waiting, the pain and the loneliness of no children.

 Sometimes we need a visual to help us remember things. Some people tie a string around their finger, or make notes or come up with tricky little sayings to remember important things. Just as Abraham had the stars to remind him of God’s promise, we as Christ followers have a sign: the Cross of Jesus.

 The Cross of Jesus reminds us of forgiveness. It reminds us of the empty tomb and the new life we have in Christ. It reminds us that when God promises something, it happens. Period. That doesn’t mean that we won’t struggle from time to time. It doesn’t mean there won’t be hard times. It DOES mean that we can trust God to come through for us when we need Him because we are much loved children.

 PRAYER: Heavenly Father. Thank you that your promises never fail. Help me to look to the cross during the hard times of life. Help me to remember that you promised never to leave me or forsake me. I praise you for your forgiveness, love and m

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