Shall not escape

Proverbs 19:5 “A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape.”

When a hurricane hits the shores, the damage is indescribable. I’ve seen it firsthand. Homes destroyed. Trees broken in half like twigs. Cars turned upside down. People’s lives blown away in an instant. The destruction is real and visible; and everyone around it knows exactly how and when it happened.

But a lie…

Lies are like snakes. They slither around in the tall grass or hide under rocks. You find them unexpectedly in a water can or next to a peaceful brook. When they strike, it is with little warning.

Lies float around in the air like a deadly virus. They grow and spread like cancer. It is hard to control or contain them.

There are several times in the Bible that God mentions lying and the impact it has on our lives.

Psalm 101:7, “No one who practices deceit will dwell in my house; no one who speaks falsely will stand in my presence.”

Luke 8:17, “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.”

Proverbs 12:22, “The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy.”

Satan lied to Eve regarding the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge and the fall of man began. Talk about destruction – no storm has ever made an impact as great as one lie from the lips of a snake to Eve. Lying is a BIG deal.

We do it on a daily basis. We lie because we don’t want to tell someone the truth. We can’t make an appointment or we’re too tired to spend time with someone. We didn’t get the work done and our excuse couldn’t be as good as a lie. We cheat others; damage property; can’t admit our faults. And so we use the sin that started all sin, and we lie.

Our children see us lie and they lie. Our government lies. We lie at work, at church, in the grocery store. We even lie to God. Lying has been “in” since Adam and Eve. Sometimes, we don’t even remember what the truth is because we’ve lied so much to cover it.

I want to challenge you today to stop the destruction of mankind. Stop lying. It isn’t easy. Commit today not to tell a lie. Be honest with your kids; be honest with your spouse; be honest with your parents, your boss, your teacher, your friends. Honor God today and make it a LIE FREE day. Maybe if today is LIE FREE, tomorrow will be too. Try it.

In you I take refuge

Psalm 16:

Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge.

I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” I say of the holy people who are in the land, “They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.” Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more.  I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods  or take up their names on my lips.

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;  you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;  surely I have a delightful inheritance. I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;  even at night my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the Lord.  With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, 10 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful[b] one see decay. 11 You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

I love this Psalm by David. It says so much about out Father’s love for us. From the very first words, we are assured, like a child, that God will keep us safe from harm. You may be the richest man on the earth, but if you do not have God, you have nothing good. It doesn’t matter what you have or what you do, if God isn’t in your life, it isn’t good.

In today’s society, there are many gods to worship: money, games, material possessions, careers, and so much more. Many of us put our hopes in those fleeting things. Worshipping those things will only cause you to suffer more and more. David tells God, he will not worship other gods, but the Lord alone is his security.

When rough times threaten your peace, it is God who will take you up under His wing and give you the strength to endure. Money isn’t the answer. A new house isn’t the answer. A new car isn’t going to get it for you. Only the name of God should come for your lips.

Our portion (our inheritance) is drawn up by God. Our cup (our destiny) is planned out by God. He assigns them because He is in complete control of both. God makes known our paths for life and if we allow Him, He will see us through to the very end.

Set the Lord before you today. Remember who is your right hand and walk confidently that you will not be shaken.

The Way He Sees it

Numbers 14:26-34, “The LORD said to Moses and Aaron: 27 “How long will this wicked community grumble against me? I have heard the complaints of these grumbling Israelites. 28 So tell them, ‘As surely as I live,declares the LORD, I will do to you the very things I heard you say: 29 In this desert your bodies will fall–every one of you twenty years old or more who was counted in the census and who has grumbled against me. 30 Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun. 31 As for your children that you said would be taken as plunder, I will bring them in to enjoy the land you have rejected. 32 But you–your bodies will fall in this desert. 33 Your children will be shepherds here for forty years,suffering for your unfaithfulness, until the last of your bodies lies in the desert. 34 For forty years–one year for each of the forty days you explored the land–you will suffer for your sins and know what it is like to have me against you.'”

All of us face situations in which we want to grumble, complain, criticize, and protest. It is easy to be drawn into the pit of despair and self-pity. According to the scripture in Numbers, one day of negativity and grumbling has the power to draw us into a year of bondage! 40 days became 40 years for the Israelites and the Lord clearly declares to them, “I will do to you the very things I heard you say…” Could it be our very thoughts and words become our destiny simply because we uttered them?

When the enemy wants us to see all that is wrong with ourselves and our lives; with the people around us; with our children; with our careers; God wants us to see it the way He sees it – quite differently from the enemy.

Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

When your tongue starts to grumble; when your attitude reflects negativity and discord, remember Philippians 4:8. Force yourself to see the positive. Force yourself to think differently. Occupy your mind with the voices of truth. Start today to change the way you see your circumstances and the people around you.

God is our strength

We live in a fallen world. Because of the sin of man, we will have tragedy; we will have troubles; we will grieve; we will have sickness; we will have pain; we will experience disasters. Matthew 5:45 tells us, “… He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

The past few months have been difficult. More than ever, people are hurting and in need. I see it on a daily basis and my heart breaks for so many. I only have to flip through a few news channels to see even more pain nationally and internationally. The times we live in are hard and challenging; but the key to getting through it all is knowing who holds the times.

How then do you cope with tragedy? Here are some steps to help you endure:

1. Know and understand God is still God

2. Know and understand evil befalls everyone

3. Live daily knowing life is short and fragile

4. Prepare daily to meet God personally

5. Love those around you and reach out to them in the middle of the tragedy

The most important step to remember, God is our strength. He is our rock, our help, our guide, and our source. When we feel His lack of presence, know He is there – always.

Psalm 23:4, “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

Deuteronomy 31:8, “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Psalm 27:1, “The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?”

The darkness has not understood it

John 1:5, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not understood it.”

Have you ever been rejected? Probably at some point or another, we all have. For some, rejection has occurred quite frequently. To be excluded, to be shunned, to be cast aside, to be made to feel of no value for whatever reason.  Those are the experiences and feelings no one wants to have. Imagine however if the very people who refused you were the ones you came to save? Imagine the people who treated you in such a manner were the people you were trying to rescue, the people you were willing to die for, the people you gave your all to love.

This verse in John tugs at my heart because it explains the intent of Christ and the manner in which humanity received him. He came as the light of the world, the answer to our imminent death, the Savior of mankind; yet, we had become so familiar with ‘darkness’ that we did not recognize what God was trying to do.

I often wonder what I would’ve done if I lived in Jesus’ time. Would I have readily accepted Him? Would I have known He was the King the prophets talked about? I’m not sure. And what about now, 2000 years since His birth? Do we accept Him fully or are there parts of us that still reject Him?

Not too long ago, I came across a wounded bird in the field. He appeared dazed and stunned either by hitting a tree or a car window. I didn’t know. As I carried him in my hand back to my house, I noticed his beautiful feathers and coloring. His breast was spotted with brush strokes and his wings were several shades of brown. The details alone on this bird blew my mind. I couldn’t fathom the time God had taken just on this particular bird. How much He must love His creations!  As I viewed that  bird, I couldn’t help but realize God’s grace in us.  As the Psalmist has said, we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.”  Like the bird, the intricacies of the human body mesmerize the careful observer.  I am amazed at the magnitude of God’s love for us.

Yet, by our lifestyles we reject Him.  Today I challenge you to listen to His voice.  Choose to embrace Him as Lord of your life.  Instead of choosing to reject Him and walk in darkness, allow the light of His voice and life to fill your daily experience.  He deserves to be accepted by us.

The Word that Sustains the Weary

Isaiah 50:4, “The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary…”

Christ came to be a voice to the weary. He came to teach the ways of His Father. He came that we might have life. And when He left, He told us He was sending a helper, the Holy Spirit, to live within us (John 14:16).

Do you experience the ‘KNOW-HOW’ to deal with that difficult person at work; the ‘KNOW-HOW’ to handle the foreclosure; the ‘KNOW-HOW’ to handle the sickness;  the ‘KNOW HOW’ to handle the troubled teenager;  the KNOW-HOW to say what needs to be said? If you have a relationship with Christ and have welcomed the Holy Spirit into your life, you have access to it. In fact, it is in you. God has given us a well-instructed tongue so we can speak to the weary in spirit, witness to the non believer, and encourage the broken. When we face hard-times, feel depressed, and all around us seems chaotic, God has given us the ‘KNOW-HOW’ to make it through.

Isaiah 50:4, “…He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed (taught).”

Have you ever thought, “God awakened me!”? It has happened to me numerous times, where I felt with certainty God awakened me for a particular reason.  In fact, this morning at 5 am it happened.  I should have been exhausted but was wide awake an hour early for no reason…or perhaps for a reason.  Whether it was to pray for someone, read a Scripture, listen to His Voice, prepare for a situation I will face, or simply to rest in His presence, I knew He was there…and speaking.  Isaiah is telling us, God wakes us up every morning to instruct us of our day -to tell us how to deal with this or that.

How many of us miss that? He is giving us the ‘KNOW-HOW’ so we can come against any obstacle in our path. How many of us jump out of bed and start running full bore never preparing for our day? How many of us miss out on our instructions and walk blindly through the day? The old adage is “around like a chicken with its head cut-off.” Perhaps that describes how we jump into our day when we could have learned from God what was coming and how to deal with it.

If you want the ‘KNOW-HOW,’ make God your first uninterrupted appointment every morning. If it means less sleep, so be it. Don’t miss out on God’s instruction to you. It is His promise to us when we listen to Him. As the great reformer Martin Luther put, “I have too much to do today not to pray.”

The day to honor God

Genesis 2:3, “Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work of creating that He had done.”

As a boy, Sundays were different days in my life. The grocery stores were closed. Few restaurants were open. The Ace Hardware – closed. The one movie theatre we had would never be opened on Sunday. No, Sundays were spent at church; home for Sunday lunch; visiting with neighbors; back to church for Sunday night services; a little homework; and to bed. When I was a boy, I loved Sundays, especially if neighbors didn’t come over; then, Dad and I could go fishing in between church services.

God intended for our Sundays to be different; to be days we regroup, reconnect, and refocus. He blessed the seventh day and asked us to keep it Holy.

For many of us, Sunday is just a day. If put it on a schedule, it would look no different from any other day of the week – but it is different. Lately, I have felt in my heart God’s urgency to look at Sunday. How are we spending the time He deemed Holy?

I understand that many of us work on Sunday. It is my job to preach at the church I serve. But I can still make the day Holy. My dad did and still does. God knew what life was all about before He created us. In His wisdom, He knew that we needed a day to recharge, restart, and revive.

What does your Sunday look like? I challenge you to make it Holy. Sit down with your family or spouse or friends, whatever applies in your life, and determine that Sunday will be different; it will look different; it will feel different. Designate the day to honor and glorify God.


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