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“And if you follow me and obey my decrees and my commands as your father, David, did, I will give you a long life.” 1 Kings 3:14

“Why can’t you be more like…”

Remember how much you hated hearing that? Maybe it was comparing you to a sibling, a relative or the class valedictorian. It’s fun to compare ourselves to others when we have better gifts and skills. It’s not so much fun to be compared to someone who obviously has their life together better than you do. What would it be like to be compared to someone who lived a life that was below your standards? How would it feel to not only be compared to them, but encouraged to be like them!

That was the situation Solomon found himself in. His father, King David had just died and the kingdom was now securely in Solomon’s hands. God came to him and offered him whatever he wanted and Solomon wisely chose wisdom.

Then, God says to Solomon, (look out, here comes a personal paraphrase), “Ok Solomon, here’s the deal. I want to bless you more than you can imagine because I love you and you love me. So, what I want you to do is to follow the example of your father, David. He was a man after my own heart who followed all my rules.”

I have to wonder if Solomon didn’t take a momentary double-take on that.

“Wait! Like my father David? Most Holy God, do you remember how his affair with mom and how he killed her first husband? Do you remember when his daughter was raped by his son and he did nothing about it? Do you remember how he constantly did his own thing and had to come to you time and again, repent and ask you to forgive him? Wait. That’s it isn’t it God. Dad made plenty of mistakes but he always came back to you. I get it now.”

Maybe it didn’t happen that way for Solomon, but it certainly does for me. If you feel like a failure. If you wonder if you’ll ever get it right? Remember there are many examples in the Bible of men and women who failed miserably and yet, they were used mightily by God.

PRAYER: Lord, I’m constantly reminded by others and my own conscience of my failures. I’m weak, stubborn, rebellious and selfish at times. Yet, even then, I love you. Thank you for always waiting with open arms to welcome me home. Amen.

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If the foundations are destroyed, What can the righteous do?” Psalm 11:3 (NASB)

Jesus told a parable one day about houses and the importance of building your house on a firm foundation. Jesus was a carpenter. He knew the importance of having a firm foundation to build the walls on. A shaky foundation would never stand the tests of time or weather the storms of life.

Although he was chosen by God to be king, David lived in constant threat of his life from an angry, insecure, violent King Saul. David endured his threats, dodged his spears and suffered the effects of Saul’s ridicule and lies while he waited for the promise to be fulfilled.

David was able to withstand Saul’s attacks because his trust in God to fulfill the promise; his trust in God to protect him when evil attacked; his trust in God when it seemed he’d been forgotten, was greater than his fear.

David’s foundation lay in his trust of an omniscient, all-powerful, forgiving God. When we face hardship in this world, the depth of our foundation is crucial in maintaining our walk of faith. A foundation set on the surface is suspect. A foundation that goes deep into the bedrock will be unshakable. The roof may crumble. The walls may fall. But the foundation will remain intact.

Enemies of the faith will tell you the foundation the Christian faith is built on is suspect. They’ll tell you that there are other buildings, other ways of faith that will give the shelter and protection of the Christian faith. But while their walls may seem secure, the weakness of their foundation will never stand the tests of time.

The promise David waited for was two-fold. One was that he would sit on the throne ofIsrael. It took many hard years for that to be fulfilled. The second part of the promise was that an eternal king from his lineage would sit on the throne ofIsrael. The promise was fulfilled in Jesus Christ, who will one day come back to claim the throne that is rightfully his.

Our faith is built on a foundation that will never fail. It may seem our walls crumble around us. The enemy’s attacks may destroy what is seen. But the foundation of our faith, the Word of God, will never falter. It’s a foundation you can trust in.

PRAYER: Father, in our day it seems like the very tenants of our faith are under attack and being destroyed. Even those who claim to be called ‘Christian’ are making decisions that go against your Word in the name of Grace. I praise you today that the truth of your word, the foundation on which I stand, will stand the attacks and weather the storms of time. Amen.


But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. Psalm 3:3 (NIV)

King David has gone down in history as being a mighty warrior, battling giants, defeating perennial enemies of God’s people and bringing peace to the Promised Land. He was a courageous leader. Patiently waiting until God placed him on the throne, building around him a loyal and respected army, unifying the twelve tribes ofIsraeland making her a force to be reckoned with. Throughout the Old Testament, in the years following David, the Kings of Israel are compared to David in their military valor, leadership and perhaps most importantly, their allegiance to the God of Israel.

With all of his victories, there was one battle that King David never consistently overcame: the battle for his heart. While he is referred to as the ‘man after God’s own heart’, David’s heart wandered from the path he so desperately wanted to follow.

David’s struggle with the heart is shown in its ugliest form in the story of Absalom, the son of David who so longed for his father’s attention that he was driven to start a rebellion among David’s own people. A rebellion that tore the palace apart, dividedJerusalem, and threatened to destroy the nation ofIsrael.

We can weather the storms from the outside with courage, but the battle for our hearts, the battle from within can destroy us. During this time of humility and disgrace, David is driven from the throne, and pens the words of Psalm 3. Tucked away in the words of this song from his heart, verse 3 offers us encouragement during our time of weeping and anguish; during those times when love has been ripped from our hearts.

Three truths from this little verse should energize us to follow him:

“You are my shield around me…” The word shied is better translated as a buckler, as a coat of armor that encircles a man entirely as he goes into battle. We are protected from the attacks the great enemy uses against us. Those attacks may come from people, even from religion. Those attacks may come from above us, below us or behind us. What a wonderful picture for us to hold on too. Se can’t possibly see all the attacks that are coming our way, but our shield and protector, the Creator-God of the universe, our Heavenly Father who loves us with a never ending love, has set his power on protecting us from attack.

“You…are my glory”. Does Gods’ protection mean we won’t suffer? No. Does it mean there won’t be hardship? No. But along with the things God allows into our lives is the promise that he will strengthen us to endure and grow stronger. In the midst of his humiliation, when many of his most loyal subjects deserted him and he was forced to leave in shame, David remembers that some day he would return in triumph. He may not have been sure how that would come about, but he trusted his Lord. Present suffering didn’t keep David from seeing future deliverance. Whether sitting on the throne, or running in disgrace, David was confident his God would deliver him. How true for us as well. As we endure this present struggle on the journey of life; during those times when the wounds of our heart seem unbearable, our hope is eternally set on the Lord.

“You, Lord…lift my head high.” It’s easy to spot someone on the street who is enduring hardship and pain. They walk with their heads towards the pavement. It could be a momentary struggle or a life-long battle they are facing. Their pain could be recent or the festering puss of a wound scabbed over, but full of infection below the surface.

The person who lives in confidence walks with his head held high. His eyes are to the future, not the present. His focus is on others, not himself. Their eyes are full of life, not of emptiness and sorrow. During those times when the pain is too great; the pressure too severe; the future too dark and worrisome, we in our human frailty can not so much as lift our heads to see the future that lay ahead of us.

No worries. Our lord and savior Jesus Christ lifts our head for us. When the journey is too harsh and the enemy too great for us to see our way through, we need only see Jesus. Are you struggling in the journey? Let him be the one to lift your head. Trust him to show you the hope you have for the future. He is your shield of protection. He believes in you when everyone else abandons you. He shows you hope for your future.

PRAYER: Lord God, I’m tired. The attacks from outside aren’t nearly as painful as the battle that rages within. Thank you for your promise of protection. Help me to feel your arms around me. Thank you for your salve of healing for my wounds. Empower me to live strong in adversity. Thank you for lifting my head so I can see the future glory you have for me. Amen.


Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10

Can you hear the emotion in King David’s ‘voice’ as he pens these words? I see him hunched over a table in the far reaches of the palace, away from everyone. Surrounded by wealth, holding the power of the kingdom in his hands, considered mighty, powerful, invincible. Yet there he sits. His hands covering his face as he ponders the situation.

“How did I let it go this far? How did I let this happen? What will the people say? What’s next for me in God’s eyes? How can I fight off a bear, a lion, a giant and countless enemies and let this happen to me?”

The list goes on as David recounts the things in life that led him to this point. At that time it was perhaps the lowest point in his life, the time when his affair with Bathsheba was exposed. This well-known verse is or has been the cry of each of us as we’ve traveled this journey of life.

Our spirit is right. We know what we want to do. We charge straight ahead into battle with the intent of living for Jesus. We determine that nothing will keep us from the goal of living what we believe.

Then life happens. It’s not the big things that pull us down right away. It starts with the little things, tiny lapses that seem insignificant. But like a tumor they grow unseen until we realize we’ve strayed far from the path. The goal is no longer even in sight for us.

That’s when grace steps in. Grace says that no matter how far we stray from the path we intent to travel we can be forgiven.

Notice the words again. David asks his Father to ‘create a pure heart’. Only God can create something. To create means to make something completely new. The heart was considered the seat of emotion and the source of our thoughts and desires. David isn’t asking God to fix his heart, he’s asking for a new one. That’s the key to making meaningful and effective change in your life; coming to a point when you reach out to God and say “I can’t do this anymore. My DNA won’t allow me to make the changes I need to make. Make my heart (my emotions, my desires, and my passions) new. The old ones aren’t working

Only after our passions are made new can we hope to have the strength to change. Our determination to follow Christ unwaveringly can only happen after we have confessed our sin and by grace received forgiveness through Jesus Christ. Our spirit (the source of our actions) will only be pure when our heart is made new.

PRAYER: Father God. I’m so tired of trying and failing and trying and failing and trying and failing again. I try to hard to live for you without much success. Like David, I ask that you would create a new heart within me. I confess my sin and weakness. I acknowledge my need for you. I accept your forgiveness and grace through Jesus Christ. Help me go in your strength to tackle the issues I face today. In your name I pray, 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.

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