Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Old age

Those who are planted in the house of the Lord
Shall flourish in the courts of our God.
They shall still bear fruit in old age;
They shall be fresh and flourishing,
To declare that the Lord is upright;
He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him. – Psalm 92.13-15

I keep saying that I am not old yet. That is true. They say that 60 is the new 40 so if that is the case I am just in middle age.

But I at the point where, on a clear day, if the conditions are just right, I can see old age on the horizon. It is still a bit fuzzy – but there it is.

However, I can certainly feel it on the way.

Sometimes when I get up and it is easier to count the places that don’t ache instead of the ones that do I start to think and contemplate on the future. I know that unless some kind of tragedy befalls me I probably have at least 20-25 years left to get old.

I wonder on those mornings what I am possibly going to do over those next couple of decades. What kind of service will I be doing in 2030? What use will I be to God in 2035?

I frankly don’t know. I, of course, don’t know if I will be here. But I can know this. God can use me even then.God’s saints will flourish in His courts. But I can also rest that I can still bear fruit in my old age and still be fresh and flourishing.

There is no place for God’s people to stop as we get older. We still are to be steadfast, unmoveable, and abounding in His work. We can’t get weary in well doing. Our labour is not in vain. In due season we shall reap and flourish and bear fruit even in the later years. We keep in the race we are called to keeping our eyes on Jesus.

Just keep going. Fruitful years are ahead.

Monday, 30 January 2017

Under His wings

He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;
His truth shall be your shield and buckler. – Psalm 91.14

I read once about a competition to paint the perfect picture depicting peace. According to the story all ind of paintings were painted. Some had lovely pastoral scenes. Some had families gathered together before roaring fire in the fireplace. Some had a perfect placid lake without a ripple on the surface. There were all kinds of ideas about what peace was.

But the winner was a painting of a powerful waterfall surging and roiling and crashing down the rocks on the side of the cliff. The painting screamed of noise and violence and turmoil. It looked nothing like how most of us would picture peace.

Looking closer though there was something else to be seen. There is a cleft of a rock was a small bird and peeking our from under the bird’s wing were two or three baby birds. There, in the midst of turmoil, the baby birds found peace and safety and  protection on their nest protected by their mother’s wings.

In this world full of fears and dangers I can’t think of any better picture of peace and protection than a mother bird defending her chicks. There is that wonderful image of coziness and comfort and calmness with mother making sure that nothing is going to happen in the storm.

God protects you and me in the same way. When the storms come He comes along and wraps His wings of protection around us. The storms will be there, but we will have His covering presence around us if we rely on Him.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

The beauty of the Lord

And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us,
And establish the work of our hands for us;
Yes, establish the work of our hands. – Psalmist 90.17

One of the most amazing things to see and experience is to see the work that God does when His beauty overcomes the impact of a broken world.

This world is capable of doing great damage to lives of people all over. The effects sin of mankind is terrible. Sin takes its toll on the world and it takes its toll on the people who live there. Sin wrecks lives and leaves people in its terrible wake. Families are torn apart by the ugliness and ravages of sin.

But there is something that changes all that. The beauty of the Lord will overcome all the evil and wickedness and ugliness of sin. When the beauty of the Lord comes upon a broken life everything changes. Weeping turns to joy. Sadness turns to gladness. And ugliness turns to beauty.

The beauty of the Lord changes us on the inside and even on the outside. No wonder there is joy in the presence of angels when one sinner comes to repentance and the beauty of the Lord replaces the ugliness of sin.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Your strong arm

You have a mighty arm; Strong is Your hand, and high is Your right hand. Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; Mercy and truth go before Your face. Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound! They walk, O LORD, in the light of Your countenance. In Your name they rejoice all day long, And in Your righteousness they are exalted. For You are the glory of their strength, And in Your favour our horn is exalted. – Psalm 89.13-17

There is a lot packed in these few verses. These descriptions of our God cannot help but to encourage us.

You have a mighty arm
Your hand is strong
Your hand is high and lifter up
Your throne is based on righteousness and justice
You have mercy and truth in front of you
Your voice gives a joyful sound
Your countenance guides our faith
Your name gives us joy
Your righteousness exalts us
Your glory is our strength

Wow! That’s quite a list of the blessings of being God’s people. I think we can forget, I know I can forget, all of these things about our God. I can get overwhelmed with the petty trials and petty struggles and petty fears that I forget who is on my side. I forget that my God has a strong arm and string hands and is right and just and merciful and truth. I forget that I walk in His faceshine. I forget about His guidance and I forget about His joy all because I am so focused on my own issues.

All I can think about is my problems and the obstacles in my life and my inability to solve them.

Why? At the end of the day it is because I just really can’t accept the things God promises. Faith says I will trust Him. Doubt will always stop me from living the life God wants me to live.

God wants me to live in peace and joy of His presence and guidance. I just need to trust Him and do it.

Friday, 27 January 2017

Keeping our prayers before Him

O Lord, God of my salvation,
I have cried out day and night before You.
Let my prayer come before You;
Incline Your ear to my cry.
For my soul is full of troubles,
And my life draws near to the grave. – Psalm 88.1-3

The psalmist here is in utter desperation. He is not seeing God working. He feels forsaken. As we read the rest of the psalm we find out that he never really sees God work, but that doesn’t change his commitment and his devotion to prayer.

If you read the whole psalm you see that it is just misery on difficulty on problem on situation on hard time. We don’t even get to see the results of the prayer. But that doesn’t stop the psalmist.

I have called out to You Lord.
Let my prayer come before.

I wonder how well you and I do when things are going badly and it still doesn’t seem like our prayers are ‘working?’ Do we keep on going? Do we keep on praying? Do we we trust God even when trust doesn’t seem to bear fruit?

Faith means that we just keep praying, even when we don’t see the results because we trust God more than we trust events and circumstances.

When our souls are full of troubles and we seem near the grave we just keep bringing our prayers to Him.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Glourious things of thee are spoken

His foundation is in the holy mountains.
The Lord loves the gates of Zion
More than all the dwellings of Jacob.
Glorious things are spoken of you,
O city of God!
Selah - Psalms 87:1-3

Glorious things of thee are spoken
Zion, city of our God.
God, whose word cannot be broken,
formed thee for his own abode.
On the Rock of Ages founded,
what can shake thy sure repose?
With salvation's walls surrounded,
thou may'st smile at all thy foes.

I love old hymns. I love some new hymns as well, but maybe because they are what I grew up with, I love the majestic old ‘big’ hymns.

The psalm speaks of Zion, which is a name for Jerusalem, but metaphorically it speaks of heaven, the New Jerusalem. Zion is where God lives.

It is in the presence of God that we find our comfort and strength and assurance and it is where we get the power to keep on keeping on.

John Newton of ‘Amazing Grace’ fame penned the words of the hymn based on this psalm. Each stanza speaks of a different blessing of the presence of God. The first verse, above, speaks of His glorious strength.

In days of darkness and despair we have the glories of our future to sing of.  One day we are going to reach our New Jerusalem and we ought to be rejoicing in that truth. Sure, we have to live our lives here, but as we live we need to make sure others know why we have the hope that we have.

There is no better time than now to speak glorious things about our God and our future with Him.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

My Lord knows the way

Teach me Your way, O Lord;
I will walk in Your truth;
Unite my heart to fear Your name.
I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart,
And I will glorify Your name forevermore.
For great is Your mercy toward me,
And You have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol. – Psalm 86.11-13

We face a choice of paths and directions and ways to go. We have major choices at times and we also have everyday seemingly insignificant choices. But we never know where those choices are going to lead.

It is hard to know sometimes which path to take because on every path there are twists and turns and unknowns further along the trail.

So how do we know which path to take? How do we know which way to follow?

‘Teach me your way O Lord, and I will walk in Your truth.’

We need to know God’s way and the only way for us to know it is to allow His Holy Spirit to direct us. We find those directions for His way in His word and we allow the Holy Spirit to teach us.

We need to be aware in advance that chance are that God’s path is not going to be the easy way and most folks are not going to join us. God's way is narrow and it can be hard, but when it is done it will be worth it all when we see Jesus. 

But God’s ways are always best. There is a way that seems right to man but its end is death. God’s way is the way of life. My only hope in this troublesome world is let God lead me in His way.

My Lord knows the way through the wilderness. All I have to do is follow. 

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Salvation is near

Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him,
That glory may dwell in our land.
Mercy and truth have met together;
Righteousness and peace have kissed.
Truth shall spring out of the earth,
And righteousness shall look down from heaven.
Yes, the Lord will give what is good;
And our land will yield its increase.
Righteousness will go before Him,
And shall make His footsteps our pathway. – Psalm 85.9-13

It seems like there are some people who might just be so bad that there is no chance that they could ever be saved. Some bad guys are so bad that there is surely no way that they can find salvation. We do a pretty good job of condemning the super wicked lost and seem unable to love their souls. But whats the point? This guys are just too wicked. Surely the fighters for daesh are just too wicked. Surely those perverts and child abusers are so far from the truth of the gospel that they cannot be saved.

For example, there was this guy from the Middle East whose job it was to hunt down and arrest and persecute Christians. Here is a guy who goes to the public executions of Christians and supports the stone throwers. He has a zeal for his task that no one can question. He is Christian enemy number one. He desires to get rid of Christians. Surely God could not save this guy.

Despite all that most readers will know that even this guy could be saved. Salvation was near to hand when Paul learned to fear God. Salvation was right there even for the evil man who was Paul.

God says ‘I am not a God who is far off.’ We also read ‘seek the Lord while He may be found, call on Him while He is near.’

There is a great personal application here. God is also near to hand for us in the midst of our trouble. Deliverance is near. The trouble may still be there, but God is close to hand to deliver us from fear and anxiety and pressure. He is right there, even when He seems far away to us.

God is right there, for us and for those who ignore Him. There is always hope.

Monday, 23 January 2017

A day with the Lord

For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
Than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
The Lord will give grace and glory;
No good thing will He withhold
From those who walk uprightly.
O Lord of hosts,
Blessed is the man who trusts in You! – Psalm 84.10-12

The world is certainly full of all sorts of allurements. So many of them try to draw our attention away from God. It reminds me of Vanity Fair in Pilgrims Progress. Christian is drawn away thinking that He is going to be able to find more satisfaction there that He did in the presence of God.

But he found out that there was no satisfaction in Vanity Fair. I remember times in my life and I remember things that allured me. Eventually I realises that there was no real satisfaction in those things. There was no peace there. There was no satisfaction and there was no joy.

I am finally getting to the point where I realise that the only place I find peace and contentment and satisfaction is not in the pursuit of the world, but when I am walking in sweet fellowship with God.

A day in the presence of God is better than a thousand days in the world. It is better to be a humble doorkeeper in His house than to dwell in comfort in the sumptuous tents of the wicked.

Why do I continue then to seek after the world and its ways? Why can’t I just rest in the comfort I find in God’s presence?

It’s because my flesh keeps lying to me trying to convince me that there is more satisfaction in the world than there is with my God.

But no, I need this reminder that the days with my God are far better than the time I spend in the world and may I seek out those days instead of my fleshly desires.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

That they may know you

That they may know that You, whose name alone is the Lord,
Are the Most High over all the earth. – Psalm 83.18

Why do we do what we do? Why do we live and serve and strive after godliness and love people and do good for them and be kind and all those kinds of things? Why do we bother? Why do we keep going despite trials and tests and opposition?

We do what we do for a clear purpose that we must keep in mind. We live and breath and walk and talk and love and care and strive after holiness so that the world may know our God. The must know the One whose name is Lord and who is the Most High over all the earth.

It is pretty obvious that the world we know does not know our God. It seems like nearly everything that happens is proof of that. This old broken world is also a wicked world. Evil reigns. Sin flourishes. Not only that sins and evil are exalted. Even God’s people may exalt evil if it suits and benefits their purposes.

And all that evil exists simply because people do not know our God. Creation gives all the evidence anyone needs to know that He is there. Many people know about God – but few know Him.

God could have chosen any number of methods to introduce Himself to man – but He chose to use us. Us, you and me, sinful men and women were chosen to bring others to a knowledge of our God.

So we keep going. We keep plugging away. We keep being faithful that they may know our God.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

God judges the nations

God stands in the congregation of the mighty;
He judges among the gods. – Psalm 82.1

This is an interesting psalm. It doesn’t seem to have a lot of practical instruction and no encouragement and it even seems a little out of place.

He God stand in judgement of all the powers of men on earth. He examines the nations and their rulers to see how they measure up to His standards.

Here are some things that God says about the nations that sound a lot like the nations we know today.

How long will you judge unjustly,
And show partiality to the wicked?

And here are some things nations are supposed to do

Defend the poor and fatherless;
Do justice to the afflicted and needy.
Deliver the poor and needy;
Free them from the hand of the wicked.

Instead of giving hope I think this psalm points out the fact that nations are always going to fail us. It reminds me that politics and leaders and nations are not answer. That means that the only hope is with God’s intervention.

Our job is to introduce people to Christ as the only hope and remember that ‘this world is not our home.’

Friday, 20 January 2017

My people will not listen

"Oh, that My people would listen to Me, That Israel would walk in My ways! – Psalm 81.13

Being a parent and a grandparent and a teacher I am one of those people who likes to be listened to. In fact, I expect to be listened to. When we try to instruct people we are truly trying to help it is not easy to have our advice or instructions or ideas listened to especially when we know it is the best thing to do.

Imagine then what it must be like when God’s people will not listen to Him. God's word and God’s work and God’s way and God’s wisdom are perfect. He never makes a single mistake when He teaches and instructs us.

Despite that so few are willing to listen. It is bad enough when the world does not listen, but think about how it is when God’s people won’t listen. We know He is our God. We know He has saved us. We know that His was must be best. But still we don’t listen.

God does not want us to listen out of selfish pride. We wants us to listen to Him because He knows what is best for us. He knows what we need. He knows that if we listen to Him all will turn out best.

Yet we still don’t listen. God says ‘I will never leave you or forsake you’ and we don’t listen. He says ‘I know the things you need’ and we don’t listen.’ He says ‘trust in the Lord with all your heart’ and we don’t listen. He says ‘I will provide all your needs’ and we don’t listen.

When we don’t listen we miss out on what God has for us. We miss out His blessing and we miss out on the peace that is ours when we trust Him.

O Lord, give me ears to listen and trust what we hear.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

No turning back

Then we will not turn back from You;
Revive us, and we will call upon Your name.
Restore us, O Lord God of hosts;
Cause Your face to shine,
And we shall be saved! – Psalm 80.18-19

I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back.

That’s what we sing. The question is that what we live? When we decide to ‘follow Jesus’ do we do so awe we committed to follow through or do we only consider it lightly?

Following Christ is not a thing to be taken lightly. It is not an emotional decision that passes quickly. We need to consider the cost when we decide to follow Him.

There is a great determination here to stick with it and not give up in our Christian lives. We must be steadfast and immovable and always abounding in God’s work. We need to not be weary in well doing. We must stick the the task God gives us and not lose heart.

Nobody said would be easy. In this world we will have trouble. It is bound to happen.

But if we don’t turn back God will cause His face to shine on our efforts and we will be delivered from all those troubles.

Don’t quit. What would we go back to anyway?

Follow, follow, I will follow Jesus. Anywhere, everywhere, I will follow on.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Your people and Your sheep

So we, Your people and sheep of Your pasture,
Will give You thanks forever;
We will show forth Your praise to all generations. – Psalm 79.13

We are your people and we are your sheep.

There is a lot of depth in those words.

We are God’s people. We are bought with a price and so we belong to Him. We are not our own, but His. Therefore we ought to give our lives to serving the Christ who owns us and dwells in us.

We are also His sheep. Jesus said that His real sheep know Him and the follow Him. Sheep may not and probably will not follow anyone else, but they will follow their Shepherd.

Because we are His sheep

We will not lack
We can rest under His protection
We are led in the best paths
We have our souls restored
We are led in righteous ways
We can find comfort even in that valley of the shadow of death
We don’t need to be afraid

We have a great shepherd – let's stop trying to wander off on our own and let's follow the One who gives His life for the sheep. Let's give thanks and show forth His praise.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

According to His skill

So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart,
And guided them by the skillfulness of his hands. – Psalm 78.72

My goal this time through the book of Psalms was highlight only one passage in each psalm. I made it for 77 days, but I couldn’t do it today. This verse just needed mentioned.

This passage is one I think we all need in our troubles. He tells us how we are led, and how God guides our lives. He shepherds us according to the integrity of His heart, and He guides by the skilfulness of His hands.

God does His work by His integrity and by His skill.

And the thing is who has more integrity and more skill that God does. God’s integrity is proven because He is holy. He can do no wrong. It cannot be partial. His integrity is perfect.

But here I loved the phrase ‘according to the skill of His hands.’

My hands are not very skilled at anything. I can’t paint. I can’t play an instrument. The only things my hands have ever been skilled at was sheet metal fabrication. But I appreciate skilled hands. The things artists and performers can do amaze me.

Then I think about how all all of those hands pale in comparison to the skill of the Master Potter, and it is those skilled hands that we depend on every single day. God’s skill is the skill that created the world and parted the Red Sea and it is the skill that has cared for me every day of my life. It is that skill that alone can carry me through the rest of my life and protect me and provide for me and preserve me.

So I want to place myself in His hands and rest in His skill instead of mine.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Pass it on

We will not hide them from their children,
Telling to the generation to come the praises of the Lord,
And His strength and His wonderful works that He has done.
For He established a testimony in Jacob,
And appointed a law in Israel,
Which He commanded our fathers,
That they should make them known to their children;
That the generation to come might know them,
The children who would be born,
That they may arise and declare them to their children,
That they may set their hope in God,
And not forget the works of God,
But keep His commandments; - Psalm 78.4-7

Mary and I have been involved with children and youth ministries for a long, long time. We were doing things like children’s church even before we were married. That means that we have been working with children for more than forty years.

There is a reason we do that that runs all through the word of God. Jesus lets us know how important children are for one thing. One day He and the disciples had a typically busy day for them and everyone was tired. But then a bunch of children appeared and they wanted to see Jesus. ‘Send them away’ the disciples said. But Jesu spoke up and said ‘let those little children come to me. Don’t keep them away because heaven is filled with people like them.’

In Deuteronomy fathers are told to teach God’s word all day long and everywhere they go. They are told to be diligent in their teaching.

And here we are told the importance of not keeping God’s word from the next generation so that they can go on and pass it on to the next generation. And that they may pass it on to their children. We pass on the truths so that our children will pass on the truth to the next. And on and on and on. That is the only way that any of us have the hope that we do.

Our ministries to children are vital. They are Biblical. They are not a waste. We must carry them on.


So that our children might set their hope in God
So that they will not forget the works of God
So that they will keep His commandments

Let us not leave our kids out when it comes to ministry.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

I will remember

I call to remembrance my song in the night;
I meditate within my heart,
And my spirit makes diligent search.
Will the Lord cast off forever?
And will He be favourable no more?
Has His mercy ceased forever?
Has His promise failed forevermore?
Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has He in anger shut up His tender mercies?
And I said, “This is my anguish;
But I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High.”
I will remember the works of the Lord;
Surely I will remember Your wonders of old. – Psalm 77.6-11

I like the fact that the word of God acknowledges weakness. Here the psalmist is in utter despair, even to the point where he doubts God’s character and He doubts God’s care.

It is easy to be critical of this attitude with words like ‘will the Lord cast off forever?’ and ‘has God forgotten to be gracious?’ and ‘has God let His anger override His tender mercies?’

‘I am in anguish.’

How can someone with faith in God get to this point? How can they be so unspiritual?

We can ask that all we want – but I know me and I suspect that all of us, if we are honest, have been there. God doesn’t always make sense to me. If I am not careful I can wonder what He is doing and how He is doing is and wonder if He even really involved. Things don’t always go the way I think they should.

It happens to the strongest believers.

It is what happens after those doubts that matter.

But I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High.”
I will remember the works of the Lord;
Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.

‘I will remember’ the years at God’s right hand, the works of the Lord, and His wonders of old.

Whenever we have doubts about God during our current crisis we ought to look back at what He has done in the past.

If I look back to what God has done in my life in the last 42 years I should have the confidence that He can handle whatever is coming in this year.

So I will choose to remember. 

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Awesome to the kings

Make vows to the Lord your God, and pay them;
Let all who are around Him bring presents to Him who ought to be feared.
He shall cut off the spirit of princes;
He is awesome to the kings of the earth. – Psalm 76.11-12

There have been a lot of seemingly all powerful world leaders in history. There a leaders who built great nations and empires. Many of the most powerful have been dictators who have not had to worry about right and wrong and decency. We have had our Neros and Napoleons and Hitlers and Stalins and Pol Pots and other who seemed to thing they were invincible. But, when it is all said and done, they failed and their empires collapsed.

But there is One who is always awesome. There is One who always inspires awe. The Lord deals with all of these human leaders who think they are mighty. They think they cannot be beaten, but there is an awesome God who rules over them.

God is awesome to all of the kings and presidents and prime ministers and premiers and potentates of the world. They may not recognise Him but that does not diminish His awesomeness.

When we get troubled about what is going on in the political world we need to remember that leader still must deal with our awesome God. 

Friday, 13 January 2017

Your works declare

We give thanks to You, O God, we give thanks!
For Your wondrous works declare that Your name is near. – Psalm 75.1

The heavens declare the glory of God and foundation shows His handiwork.

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.

Creation declares the name of God in the greatest way possible. Theologians refer to it as ‘natural revelation.’ It is the means by which God first reveals Himself to man.

I listen to a lot of podcasts on all kinds of topics. I was listening the the ‘How Stuff Works’ podcast recently. The lads were discussing ‘How Baby Feeding Works.’ Part one was about breastfeeding and over and over again they were amazed at the details of how the human body produces. Though they were anti-creation the both kept talking about the ‘amazing design’ that make breastfeeding possible. God was showing Himself – but the lads were not listening.

Robinson Crusoe did listen though after his shipwreck and just before his salvation.

What is this earth and sea, of which I have seen so much? Whence is it produced? And what am I, and all the other creatures wild and tame, human and brutal? Whence are we?
Sure we are all made by some secret Power, who formed the earth and sea, the air and sky. And who is that?

Then it followed most naturally, it is God that has made all. Well, but then it came on strangely, if God has made all these things, He guides and governs them all, and all things that concern them; for the Power that could make all things must certainly have power to guide and direct them.
If so, nothing can happen in the great circuit of His works, either without His knowledge or appointment.

And if nothing happens without His knowledge, He knows that I am here, and am in this dreadful condition; and if nothing happens without His appointment, He has appointed all this to befall me.

God showed Crusoe that He was near through His marvellous works and Dafoe used this great illustration to show how God’s works draw a man close to Him. All the man has to do is to accept the evidence.

It's sad to be in a world today that chooses to ignore the obvious designs of our Great Creator God.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Today is the Lord's

The day is Yours, the night also is Yours;
You have prepared the light and the sun.
You have set all the borders of the earth;
You have made summer and winter. – Psalm 74.16-17

The day is God’s.
The night is God’s
He gives the light and the sun
He sets up the birders of the world
He sets the seasons in place.

Today, 12 January 2016 is God’s day. It is the day that He has made. Nothing in the day that God has made and nothing in the day that belongs to Him is going to take Him by surprise. Nothing in the day is going to catch Him off guard.

Someone asked my one day ‘has it ever occurred to you that nothing occurs to God?’

I am glad that today is God’s day. I am glad it is in His hands because I have no idea what it holds. I am glad that this is God’s year because as I look down the road it is uncertain and unstable. Mary’s mom and dad are quite ill and Beth has cancer and we need to go to the States and deal with both of those and I don’t have any idea how we are going to work out all the details and when we are going to need to go and I am just glad that every day of the year is already His.

God has already made 2017. Since He made it He is already in control.

Now, if I can just accept and apply that truth as things unfold. God’s ways are not my ways and His thoughts are not my thoughts and His plans for the day are not my plans for the day.

But it is day and night and week and month and year. He will do with it what He will. Can I trust that what He is going to do is best?

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Until I went

When I thought how to understand this,
It was too painful for me—
Until I went into the sanctuary of God;
Then I understood their end. – Psalm 73.16-17

Psalm 73 is full of despair. Things just are not working out for the psalmist. He is mystified as he tries to understand his trouble and to reconcile it with his relationship with God. He couldn’t figure it out so he did what most of us do – he wandered around confused and not understand and in pain.

Until, that is, until he did the right thing.

It was too painful until I went to the sanctuary of God – then I understood.

When I try to figure out the world and fairness and why some wicked seem to prosper and get away with it an good and godly people suffer and hurt it makes no sense to me at all. It doesn’t seem fair.

But when I go the Lord and I look at His word or I go to a godly friend or go to church and hear the word of God taught things will fall into place for me. I may not totally get it, but I should be convinced that God does get it and because He does get it I can choose to trust Him to sort it out.

The truth is that God is going to sort out all of the pain and injustice and unfairness and inequity that we see around us today. God will reward His children and He will deal with the wicked who seem to prosper today.

When I see these things around me today I don’t have to get it. God does get it and I can trust Him.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017


His name shall endure forever;
His name shall continue as long as the sun.
And men shall be blessed in Him;
All nations shall call Him blessed.
Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel,
Who only does wondrous things!
And blessed be His glorious name forever!
And let the whole earth be filled with His glory.
Amen and Amen. – Psalm 72.17-19

People come and people go. Nations come and nations go. Mighty empire come and go. Fads and trends and fashions and technology all come and go. It is a whole different world that it was when I was growing up.

Eventually everything changes.

Everything but one, everything but God.

Our God endures for ever, day by day the same. His name will endure through it all no matter what else happens here on earth. God’s name will remain no matter who is elected or how bad the economy gets who what natural disasters occur.

None of us can know the future. We can’t know what is even going to happen later today, much less tomorrow or next week or next year. We don’t know what news weight get tomorrow or what that phone call or text or message is going to bring. But I can know this – God will be the unchangeable and unchanging forever and forever. He will keep offering His blessings to all who will turn to Him.

God’s name is a strong and mighty tower
God’s name is Awesome
God’s name never changes
God’s name is forever

What better to put our faith in than the name of our Jehovah God? It is the one thing I can always trust.

Forever. Eternal. Unchangeable. Immutable.

That is my hope no matter what comes my way.

Monday, 9 January 2017

From the womb to the tomb

For You are my hope, O Lord God;
You are my trust from my youth.
By You I have been upheld from birth;
You are He who took me out of my mother's womb.
My praise shall be continually of You.
I have become as a wonder to many,
But You are my strong refuge.
Let my mouth be filled with Your praise
And with Your glory all the day.
Do not cast me off in the time of old age;
Do not forsake me when my strength fails. – Psalm 71.5-9

I am far from being old – at least that’s what I am keep trying to tell myself. I am however getting to the point where I am beginning to see old approaching.

And that makes me a little anxious. What does old age hold for me? We have never had much and have not been able to make a lot preparation for those years.That scares me bit. It scares me because when those years get here I am going to have to do a lot of depending on God. It shouldn't make me anxious. It is wrong for me to be anxious, but it is something I have to deal with all the time.

I don’t think I have ever really noticed this passage before. Maybe it is because I have never needed it till now.

But I think I am going to memorise this passage.

You are my hope, O Lord God. I am not my hope. My abilities and my resources are not my hope. My plans and preparations are not my hope. God is my hope.

Why is He my hope and not those other things?

He has been my trust for a long, long time. He started a marvellous work in my in my mother’s womb in that cold Alaska winter of 1954. He has been with me from that July day of my birth in Fairbanks, Alaska in 1955. He took me from my mother’s womb.

And I must rely on Him to carry me all the way to the tomb.

My prayer for my ageing years.

I pray that God will be my refuge
I pray that mouth will be full of His praise and His glory
I pray that the God who has carried me this far will not cast me off in my old age
I pray that my God will not forsake me when my own strength fails

The great thing is that I can pray those last two with absolute confidence because Christ has already promised ‘I will never, ever, ever, ever leave you or forsake you.’

The God who fearfully and wonderfully made me in the womb will fearfully and wonderfully carry me to the tomb.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Let God be magnified

Let all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You;
And let those who love Your salvation say continually,
“Let God be magnified!”
But I am poor and needy;
Make haste to me, O God!
You are my help and my deliverer;
O Lord, do not delay. – Psalm 70.4-5

I think everyone must consider what we magnify in our lives. What is important to us? What do we make large in our focus and our attention?

Some folks magnify their earthly citizenship. The most important thing to them is waving the flag and singing the patriotic tunes. Their country is where they find their pride and their purpose.

Some folks magnify their favourite sports teams. They will wear the gear and fly the flags and do whatever to glorify their team.

Others will magnify themselves or their families or their stuff or whatever. We always magnify what we treasure.

David’s desire was clear – ‘let God be magnified!’

I wish that was my hour by hour day by day desire. I wish I would wake up every day and proclaim ‘let God be magnified in my life today!’ Let me decrease that He might increase.

May everything about me and my character magnify my God to the world around me.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Up to my neck

Save me, O God!
For the waters have come up to my neck.
I sink in deep mire,
Where there is no standing;
I have come into deep waters,
Where the floods overflow me.
I am weary with my crying;
My throat is dry;
My eyes fail while I wait for my God. – Psalm 69.1-3

I will praise the name of God with a song,
And will magnify Him with thanksgiving.
This also shall please the Lord better than an ox or bull,
Which has horns and hooves. – Psalm 69.30-31

Listen to the psalmist’s complaints.

I am up to my neck in the waters of trouble
I can’t stand up in the mire
I am overwhelmed with the floods of trouble
I am worn out with crying
I have lost my voice
I have lost my vision

I think most of us can identify. If we have lived any amount of time or had any real life experiences we know what it is like to up to our necks in trouble.

I wish I could say that after 40 some years of salvation I have never felt that way. I wish I could say that I have gotten over being choked by despair. I wish I could say that fear never overwhelms me.

But I know how the psalmist feels. So whatever he did I need to do when I get that way.

‘I will praise the Lord with a song and I will magnify Him with thanksgiving.’

I think this is the key to getting through those choking times. Instead of allowing ourselves to be overwhelmed we choose to sing praises and give thanks for who God is trusting that He is good and that He is doing what is good.

I can’t help but think of Peter who, after walking on the water toward Jesus, looked to the side and sank in the water. As he sank in the water he simply looked up and said ‘Lord, save me.’

No matter how bad it gets the answer is to look up, remember who our God is, and praise Him with thanksgiving in our hearts.

Friday, 6 January 2017

God puts us in families

A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows,
Is God in His holy habitation.
God sets the solitary in families;
He brings out those who are bound into prosperity;
But the rebellious dwell in a dry land. – Psalm 68.5-6

I have a good friend in our church who talks about relationships a lot. He is from a broken and abusive home. Because of that he doesn’t feel like he every had a family. As a Christian the issue of relationships is really a big deal, and it especially a big deal to my friend. We talk about it – a lot. I try to help him grasp the amazing truth that for God is a father to the fatherless, a defender to the windows, and the He puts His children in families.

‘I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God’ is part of a great old gospel song. It speaks about love and sharing and ‘brother and sister.’ It is very much a celebration of God putting us in families.

Not every one is going to have a wonderful loving family with caring parents and best friend siblings. Sometimes earthly families are going to broken and disjointed like that of my friend.

God though provides a family for us with our brothers and sisters in Christ where we can find love and compassion and sharing and kindness and, if you will, familyship. Through the years I have found that love and sharing and compassion and family spirit in my church and it the fellowship of other believers.

God puts His children in families. No matter what our earthly birth families are like we can find true family in our spiritual brothers and sister and our spiritual parents.

Now you’ll notice we say “brother” and “sister” ’round here;
It’s because we’re a family and these folks are so near.
When one has a heartache we all share the tears,
And rejoice in each victory in this family so dear.
I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God. . . .

Thursday, 5 January 2017


God be merciful to us and bless us,
And cause His face to shine upon us,
That Your way may be known on earth,
Your salvation among all nations. – Psalm 67.1-2

I think everyone likes a bit of sunshine. Between the short days and clouds sunshine is something that is often lacking in Irish winters. When it comes folks tend to rush out and bask in its brightness and warmth.

I also think of the old John Denver that said ‘sunshine on my shoulder makes me happy.’

It is all kind of warm and cozy and good feeling.

But here we read of even a greater kind of ‘shine’ that I have chosen to call ‘faceshine.’ ‘God be merciful to bless us and cause His face to shine upon us.’

I love that image. There is no better glow to bask in than the shekinah glory of God’s face. It is a glory that man cannot even handle. It is a glory that even when Moses was close to God was so great that Moses had to veil his face when he came back to the people. God’s faceshine give light and warmth to break through the darkest and coldest gloom. God’s faceshine can light the darkest time of life, even through the valley of the shadow of death. God’s faceshine is the light at the end of the tunnel.

It is in God’s faceshine that we find hope in the dark days of bad news. It will lighten the deepest and darkest days of despair and disappointment and discouragement and depression.

Our pray in those days ought to be that of he psalmist – ‘Lord, let Your face shine on us in these hours of darkness and may we learn to walk in Your light.’

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Tried and purified

For You, O God, have tested us;
You have refined us as silver is refined. – Psalm 66.10

I don’t think any of us like trails or tests. I don’t. We have been through a few of them over the last few years. You would think I might be used to it my now – but every time it happens my heart still sinks.

Now it is Beth’s cancer. She’s my only little girl. It never gets any easier getting news that your children are sick – no matter how old they get. This is going to be quite a struggle for all of us and I think I would rather do anything than watch my Beth face cancer.

But tests are part of life. No matter how much we might wish otherwise they are going to happen.

Being tried and tested can destroy us. However they can also help make us. David said that the tests that come can, like the fires mentioned above refine and purify us like silver. Paul wrote about how when he is tried and purified he would come forth like pure gold.

I can’t see the good in Beth’s cancer. I see a lovely 32 year old woman with a husband and three young children facing a year of sickness and surgery and hard days.

But then I think of women who have come through the same. I see strong women who became stronger because of their fight.

God can work in all of our tests and trials. It is up to us to rely on Him and learn the lessons. The other alternative is to be destroyed by them.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

You crown the year

You crown the year with Your goodness,
And Your paths drip with abundance. – Psalm 65.11

We are still not all that far into 2017. 2016 is still fresh in our memories and for most of us it was a mixed year of good news and bad, of happy days and sad. 2017 promises to be more of the same.

For some of us the change of year is taking place in a time of uncertainty and turmoil. The psalmist lived in a similar time, but this whole psalm talks about the blessings an the goodness of God. Just before the verse above we read:

You visit the earth and water it,
You greatly enrich it;
The river of God is full of water;
You provide their grain,
For so You have prepared it.
You water its ridges abundantly,
You settle its furrows;
You make it soft with showers,
You bless its growth.

And then the psalmist writes ‘You crown the year with Your goodness.’

We must remember that God is good everyday and all the time. His goodness prevails even in the worst of times. Who knows what the year ahead holds? Our prayer is that no matter what happens we can trust the Lord will crown the year with His goodness to carry us through whatever is coming. His goodness will get us through all the badness.

Monday, 2 January 2017

The righteous shall be glad

The righteous shall be glad in the Lord, and trust in Him.
And all the upright in heart shall glory. – Psalm 64.10

Everyone likes to be glad. People will so all sorts of things to find gladness, but it seems like most of our pursuits of gladness fall short of producing true gladness. It is too easy to base our gladness on our circumstances or situations instead of what is eternal.

But it is only in eternal gladness that we can really find satisfaction. Gladness in temporal things is obviously not going to last forever.

But if we base our gladness on serving and pleasing God then the earthly things will pale in comparison.

True gladness is for the righteous. True gladness came at salvation when the righteousness of Christ was imputed to me and my eternity was secured. True gladness comes as I seek the righteousness in Christ in my daily life. True and complete and unfettered gladness will one day be mine when I spend eternity with Christ.

‘Rejoice, and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven’ is God’s promise for the righteous.

Real gladness, lasting gladness, eternal gladness only comes in righteousness.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Early will I seek You

O God, You are my God;
Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You;
My flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land
Where there is no water. – Psalm 63.1

Here we are in 2017. That still sounds like the opening line of a futuristic science fiction novel, but here it is. People are talking about resolutions and new beginnings and hopes and aspirations and all of those kinds of things. How can we improve on last year? How are we going to face the unknowns of a new year. The slate is clean, my journal is empty, what are we going to do with it?

Psalm 63 has a pretty good suggestion.

O God, You are my God.
Early I will seek you because my soul thirsts for you and my soul longs for you.

I think we need to ask ourselves what we are longing for as we enter this new year. Are we longing for wealth or prosperity? Are we longing for popularity and position? Are we longing for ease and comfort? What are we desiring from this year? Are we, like the psalmist, longing for the Lord with the fervency of a parched and famished people seeking for water and food?

I think today could be a test of that. Are we going to start the the year by seeking after the Lord as early in the year as we can? There is no need to wait. Today is Sunday. Start the year right by seeking at church in the fellowship with His people. Seek God early by starting the year with a Bible reading programme. Seek Him early by starting today to spend time in Bible study and prayer.

2017 is sure to have its problems. The only way to deal with them is to seek God early in the early and to seek Him early in the day.

Today, New Years Day, is the perfect time to start.