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My God, my God, why have you deserted me? Why are you so far away? Won’t you listen to my groans and come to my rescue? Psalms 22:1 (CEV)

There’s an old saying that ‘when a plane is going down, there are no atheists’. When death stares us in the face; when the crisis seems too big to bear; when we feel completely alone, abandoned and helpless, our thoughts turn to God, or at least to some supreme, higher power.

The words of Psalm 22 are referred to as a ‘Messianic Psalm’. This means that the words of the Psalmist, words written hundreds of years before Christ was born, look forward to his coming and to his suffering in our behalf.

While this is true, it’s important that we remember the original context of the words. This was a Psalm of confession. This was a Psalm of honesty and desperation. After all, where is God in our deepest need? It’s easy to find him when things go well. It’s easy to sense his presence when the bills are paid, our children’s grades are good and the report from the doctor is positive. But where is he when none of those things apply? Even in the midst of his despair the Psalmist acknowledged his faith in God. Even during the darkest night he reaffirmed his confidence that God would see him through.

At times God seems distant and unconcerned about our plight here on earth, but that is not true. He loves us and as any loving father desperately wants a love relationship with us. There are times however when his distance is not because he has moved but because we have moved away from him. Sin is the primary culprit when we feel God’s distance.

While Jesus had no sin in him these words were some of the final words Jesus spoke from the cross. During those final hours he addresses his father as ‘My God’. There is no other place that I can think of in scripture where Jesus addresses God as ‘My God’. Everywhere else he talks about ‘His Father’. But when sin enters the picture (not his but mine) the intimate phrase of ‘Father’ is replaced by the term ‘My God.’

It was sin that kept the fathers back turned to his own son. Not because of his lack of love but because his holiness doesn’t allow him to look on sin.

It was sin caused the feelings of utter despair and separation within the very soul of the savior. Sin drives a wedge in the relationship. Sin replaces our feelings of love with fear and emptiness, just as it did with Adam and Eve in the garden.

Sin does the same thing today. Sin, but whatever name we call it can not be a part of a healthy, secure relationship with the living God. While sin separates us from God, it doesn’t have to be that way. The feelings of separation Jesus felt in his dying moments paved the way to a deeper relationship with God.

Jesus felt the separation sin caused because he knew the Father and he knew when the Father’s presence was missing. You may remember a time in your life when God seemed real, but time and circumstances have taken that from you. There’s still hope. God hasn’t forsaken you. Sin may have clouded your vision of him. Forgiveness is still there for you. The relationship can be restored. And it’s all because of Jesus.

PRAYER: God, I remember a time in my life when you were real to me. I felt your power. I knew your presence. Like the little boy in ‘The Polar Express’, I heard the bells. But today I feel distant from you. Examine my heart. Show me where I’ve sinned. Forgive me now and restore our relationship through Jesus Christ. Amen.


You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Psalm 23:5

Imagine for a moment that life is one large banquet and you are an honored guest. As you seat yourself with the others at the table you notice something rather odd. The placards at each setting have words on them. You naturally assume that the words are the names of the person seated there, but on closer inspection you realize that isn’t true at all.

The person across from you has a placard that reads ‘caught in adultery’. The person down the table from you three places has one that says ‘addicted to alcohol’. Another says ‘victim of financial ruin due to poor choices.’ And on the list goes. It suddenly dawns on you that you have no idea what your placard says. You read it. Your first impulse is to hide the words, but then the room is filled with a wonderful aroma.

You look for the source of this wonderful scent and your eyes are immediately drawn to a white robed figure making his way around the table. He stops at each place and anoints the person’s head with oil. Soothing, wonderful smelling oil that changes each person it touches. With each anointing the recipient’s face glows. Partially from the soothing effects of the oil. Partially from the joy that seems to flood that person’s soul.

Then you notice another oddity. As each person is anointed, the words on their placard mysteriously change. The descriptions of the person’s failings are replaced by a single word: GRACE!

In essence that is the word picture the Psalmist has for each of us. To be anointed with oil was a custom of honor and distinction in Bible times. Honored guests were anointed with oil and as a result the room was filled with a wonderful fragrance for all to enjoy, and the person anointed felt within himself the soothing, healing effects of the oil on his hot, dusty head and face.

Each of us comes to the ‘table’ of life with robes that are tarnished by the daily struggles we face. Before us is a placard with words that describe the struggles of our lives: worry, anger, disbelief, immorality, judgmental spirit, murder, abuse, gluttony…and more. Yet if you are a Christ-follower, those words are replaced when the master comes to anoint you with the oil of his forgiveness, his love and his mercy.

That’s grace. Grace is living with the anointing of Jesus in our lives. None of us deserves it. We don’t deserve to be in the same house as the banquet much less sitting at the table.  Yet because of his sacrifice for us, we are treated as honored guests. Feel the soothing effect of the oil on your head and face as it removes the guilt of past mistakes. Smell the fragrance of forgiveness. Enjoy the euphoria of his grace as it permeates those darkest corners of your soul.

Not only does his anointing remove the stains of your past. His promises to you are so numerous that your cup will overflow with his blessings.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus. I’m reminded once more of the rich blessings I have because of you. I am so unworthy of your love. So undeserving of your forgiveness. I’ve failed you. I’ve hurt others. Worst of all, there are so many ways I’ve failed myself. Please forgive me for the times I’ve not listened to you. Anoint me with the oil of your grace so that I will be a pleasing aroma to you and those around me. In your name I pray, Amen.


You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. Psalm 32:7

He was caught red-handed. There was no way out. He was without excuse, without defense, and, in a word: GUILTY. He’d tried other hiding places. He’d tried to cover-up his weakness. He’d tried to blame others. But nothing worked.

As King David looked back over his life he remembered a time when he wallowed in guilt and pain. He describes his pain. His whole body groaned with agony. He was losing sleep. He was beaten and bruised emotionally. Perhaps it was shortly after the whole affair with Bathsheba. No doubt the guilt was based on the affair itself, the murder that followed and finally being exposed for the sinner he was and the death of the baby he’d fathered illegitimately.

As he sits down to write Psalm 32, David likely describes his feelings as he went through this most difficult time of his life. As he relives the pain he remembers that in the midst of his failure, his place of refuge was the very one who he’d failed: God.

It was his faith in God and God’s willingness to forgive his sin that brought David the healing his aching emotions needed to continue on. Consequences still had to be endured. There would always be scars and always be those who would remind him of his failure. But during those times he knew he could always run to the waiting arms of God for comfort, safety and salve for his wounded soul.

The same is true for each of us as we travel life’s journey. We will encounter those times when our soul groans within us. We may try to escape the pain. Some have tried drugs and alcohol or other addictive behavior. Others have tried new relationships, different careers or playing the blame game to cover their own pain. But nothing works. Often, if not always, attempts to heal ourselves only add to the pain.

Life events can leave us battered and bruised, wounded and scared and seemingly unable to go on. That’s when Jesus becomes our perfect hiding place. It doesn’t matter if the wounds you are enduring right now are a result of your own poor choices or the evil acts of another person. Nothing in this world can soothe the wounds we encounter in life like the healing salve of Jesus’ unending love and forgiveness.

David yearned for the peace and contentment of honest living. He longed to be able to return to a life without fear, without lies, without the shadows of his past constantly haunting him. He found relief in the same place each of us can, in the arms a loving and forgiving God. He earnestly waits for you to come to him.

PRAYER: Holy Father. You know I didn’t sleep again last night. You know the agony and pain my body is in. I’m tired of running. I’m tired of trying to hide in places that only further reveal my failure to follow you. Please forgive me for the times I’ve refused to follow you and chosen my own way. I’ve hurt others, I’ve hurt myself and I long for the healing I can only find in you. Help me this day to hide in your arms of love, forgiveness and healing. Amen.


What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31

All the farm animals were sitting around one day deciding how they could honor the farmer who took such good care of them. The Cow gladly offered some milk. The chicken jumped in to offer the eggs. All eyes turned to the pig sitting quietly in the corner. “You know, said the cow, some ham would go mighty nice with those eggs and milk.” The pig thought a moment and then said, “Yes, but you don’t realize that each of your gifts are but a part of you. For me to give, I would have to give my entire life.”

The old story reminds us that we are more likely to take an interest in things when they cost us. It’s easy to say we believe in God and Jesus when we are in a safe crowd. It’s easy to look godly on Sunday morning and angelic when we sing praise and worship songs.

It’s difficult to make the right choices when the pressure is on to have to sacrifice everything to go along with the crowd. It’s almost impossible to be willing to risk your own life or the life of your children for someone else or a cause.

The Bible is the story of God’s desire to show love to mankind. His desire is and always has been to give life to His most cherished creation. That’s why He gave all He could possibly give to provide you with a relationship of love with Him now and a promise of eternal life after we leave this world.

Because He loves you so much, He watched His innocent son die among thieves for the sin of guilty criminals. Because He loves you so much, He allows you to refer to Him as ‘Daddy’ He welcomes you into His arms as though you (a mere mortal) were His very own son. Because He loves you so much He is honored to accept you into His very presence, into the throne room of Heaven. Because He loves you so much, He is willing to give you His own power through His Holy Spirit.

Is it any wonder then, that we can rest in His protection. If we draw near to Him and trust us with our lives we don’t need to worry about the enemies that surround us. Nothing can separate us from Him. Nothing can attack us without His permission. Even when we rebel against Him, He beckons us to come to Him for healing.

If God is for me, then no seen or unseen enemy will win over me! I am His and He is mine. Forever.

PRAYER: Father, I confess to you that most times the struggles I endure and the fears I face are consequences of my own poor decisions and my stubborn rebellion to follow your ways.  Thank you for giving up so much of yourself for me when you knew I would fail you and others around me. Forgive me for my rebellious spirit. Help me to learn to walk with you through the struggles of life whether they are my own creation or the work of the enemy. Empower me now to live with the resolve to follow your ways and be guided by Your Holy Spirit. Give me courage to do what is right regardless of the fall out. Amen.

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