Day 30: The Difference

And of some have compassion, making a difference.” Luke 1:22

What a wonderful month as we have followed David’s musings [reflections] in Psalm 37. I do not know about you, but I have been encouraged, I have been rebuked, I have had my toes stepped on, I have fallen on my face in repentance, and I have come forth stronger!

Did you just see what happened? David made a difference (in my life)! Did he make a difference in yours also? How did he make a difference? By having enough compassion [care] to share! What I think is so incredible about David’s musings in chapter after chapter in the Bible is that although he starts out all stressed out … hello, drama!! … he always ends by getting his focus right and rejoices in God’s power and God’s deliverance that is freely made available to not only him but you and I as well, my friend! God never leaves us stranded. He never leaves us helpless. Hallelujah!

Last Sunday morning I spoke to the ladies Sunday School class in Indiana and I shared this verse with them, as well as, five areas that we can make a difference in someone else’s life. I would like to share those few thoughts here in an               abbreviated manner.

1. We can make a difference through PRAYER (James 5:16) … How many of us like for others to pray for us? I am sure that all of us will have our hands raised right now. There IS power in PRAYER so find someone to pray for today!

2. We can make a difference through TIME (Matthew 6:33) … Each of us has 24 hours in a day. The key is how we prioritize those hours. My first desire is to grow closer to the Lord. My second is to balance my time for family, friends, ministry, and others.

3. We can make a difference through CARING (Psalm 142:4) … Compassion is having your hurt in my heart. Take time to care for others!

4. We can make a difference through our VISION (Proverbs 29:18) … We easily get caught up in our own world that we fail to have eyes to see the needs of others … not just to the unsaved, but often for the person that sits at the end of our pew! Help us, God, to see others as you see them!

5. We can make a difference by REACHING out to others (Acts 1:8) … Often we fail to realize that we a living witness to those we come in contact with every day. Do not pass these opportunities up! Seek God’s face … have Him show you someone that needs your touch today!

Please pray for me as I study and seek God’s face for each devotional next month in the month of July! I am a nobody. David was a nobody. But, God used him to make a difference and I want Him to use me to make a difference in someone else’s life as well. It is becoming clearer in my mind what direction I believe that God is leading me, so stay tuned! I am not sure how it all is going to flow, but I will leave you with one little hint … until tomorrow … “Freedom is not Free.”

Day 29: The Way

“Wait on the LORD, and keep his WAY …” Psalm 37:34

There are two basic definitions for the word way. The first is a track or path. The second is the method or style of doing something. Both of these, I believe, can be applied to this verse for we are to keep God’s way … follow His path … and follow His example in that way. Let us look at some of those verses that speak of the way or the path that God wants for us.

John 14:6 “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

Matthew 7:13-14 “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”

Proverbs 16:25 “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”

Isaiah 30:21 “And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.”

Psalm 37:5 “Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.”

Proverbs 3:6 “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

Psalm 16:11 “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”

Psalm 119:105 “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”

I have not expounded on these verses because I believe that they speak for themselves. In fact, I have memorized them at some time in my life. You may have also, but the question is, “Have you followed them?” Which one are you not following? Which one did the Holy Spirit prick your heart about? This is a good time for us to seek repentance and to get back on the path that God desires for us!

Day 28: The Perfect

Mark the PERFECT man, and behold the upright; for the end of that man is peace.” Psalm 37:37

Have you ever felt like no matter how hard you tried, you just cannot seem to reach that perfect state? Well, I have good news for you! You will never be perfect (as defined by the world)! Hey, no stone throwing! That is good news! Why?    Because now you do not have to worry and struggle to meet that expectation.

By the way, where would that expectation even come from? Why would we even want to frustrate ourselves with such an unattainable feat? Because self or others aka human, fallible man makes us believe that we need to do so! It is a lie! My friend, do not be deceived!

The dictionary defines the word perfect as flawless, exemplary, or having the highest qualities or characteristics. I know that I said that this is a humanly impossible, unattainable state, but does that mean that we can be lazy (or the total opposite)? No! Definitely not! Why? Because biblically and spiritually perfect means a different thing, am I not correct? It means maturity. Now, this is something that we can attain! Yay!

Why would David tell us to “mark” or to take notice of “the perfect [mature] man?” Well, for starters have you watched a toddler or child and how they act? Very immature, correct? They pout and shout and can cause all sorts of havoc and  uproar when they do not get their way … or they are tired … or they are hungry … or they (add your own thoughts here).

David has spent a good bit of his time in this chapter telling us much about the evil man or the wicked man. Now he is telling us to look at the “perfect” or mature man. He is saying to watch or take notice … or notes, if necessary … of how this man acts. He wants us to see the great contrast … for there is a very marked contrast, my friend, just waiting for us to take note of. How many times have we wallowed in defeat with our heads and our bodies bowed low, when all we had to do is look up and take note?

I just got back earlier this week from flying up north to spend some first-time-ever time away with my sisters. It seems like the normal pattern for traveling by air is to hurry and wait. You hurry to the counter to get checked in only to have to wait in line. Then once checked in, you hurry off to TSA to what? Wait in line again! Then, if you are like me, you throw a red flag EVERY time that you go through the scanner (yes, I am telling the God’s honest truth!). So, then they pull you aside and pat you down and search your luggage … that you have to point to but not touch! Once all that is cleared, then you hurry off to the gate to then wait some more! While you wait, what do you normally do? I people watch and boy, howdy, you can see a lot of different people in an airport in a short period of time if you are watching!

I do not know about you, but I do not desire to act like a child during my adult years. Yet, I often find myself doing just that! Ugh! Is it just me or do you find yourself in my shoes as well? Let us take David’s advice and “mark the perfect man” … so that we too may learn the steps to becoming that perfect and mature child of God!

Day 27: The Law

The LAW of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.” Psalm 37:31

What is the law? It is a system of rules or guidelines which define correct procedure or behavior. Our lawbook, as  Christians, is the Bible. In addition to that, God gives us the Holy Spirit as our inner guide to direct and rule in our lives. What a blessed thing when we can allow that Holy Spirit to lead and guide us … to fill our hearts with right … to fill our hearts with God’s law.

Many things and even people will vie for that spot in our lives … that spot that controls us. How do we keep from following other ways and others? Well, Deuteronomy 6 has some good advice for us:

V. 4 “Here, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD.” — Listen up, child of God! There may be many gods, but there is only one true God!

V. 5 “And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” — Where does your love lie today, my friend? Where your love is, there will your heart be also!

V. 6 “And these words which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart.” — What are you filling your heart with? Are you filling it with things of the world or things of God? Do you spend time EVERY day praying, reading His Word,    studying His Word, fellowshipping with His saints, and attending His house every time the doors are open?

V. 7 “And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” — How often do we talk about the things of God? How often do we share and discuss God’s Word with others … family, friends, and co-workers?

V. 8 “And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.” — Each day we have the opportunity to choose what goes into our days? Do you put God first? Or do you leave Him home on the shelf?

V. 9 “And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.” — We have all heard the saying, “Out of sight, out of mind.” This can be true with the things of God as well. Let us strive to keep our focus on Him today! May the law of our God be in our hearts today and every day!

Day 26: The Wisdom

“The mouth of the righteous speaketh WISDOM, and his tongue talketh of judgment.” Psalm 37:30

When I chose the word wisdom from this verse for today’s devotional, so many verses on wisdom jumped right into my head! Did this happen to you also? If so, out of all of the verses which verse came to the forefront of your mind? Mine was James 3:17 “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.” Wow! That was a mouthful!

I would like for us to look a bit closer at this verse, but first, let us look at the definition of the word wisdom. Wisdom means the quality of having good knowledge, experience or judgment. Wisdom is also characterized by soundness. If we were to throw in some synonyms, we could include prudence, shrewdness, discernment, and insight.

In I Kings 3:12, God grants Solomon’s request for wisdom. Solomon could have asked anything of God, but he asked for wisdom. He could have asked for money, fame, or health but he asked for wisdom. Do you think that Solomon really    understood the depth of his request? Do you think that he realized that having wisdom from God was of far greater value than anything else that he could have asked for? I would like to think so! What about you?

You and I, my friend, need wisdom as well! We need to find ourselves in a place where all else pales besides the necessity of wisdom. We need wisdom in each and every aspect of our lives. Not just any wisdom will do though. No, we need “wisdom that is from above.” The wisdom that only God can give. The wisdom that is …

· Pure — not mixed with any other substance

· Peaceable — free from conflict

· Gentle — having or showing temperance (restraint); kind

· Easy to be intreated — not hard, or difficult, or painful when being implored or petitioned

· Full of mercy — compassion or forgiveness is shown when it is within one’s ability to do otherwise

· Full of good fruits — it produces quality results; results that are pleasing to God

· Without partiality — having no unfair bias

· Without hypocrisy — having no claim to practicing moral standards and beliefs which one’s behavior does not       conform

Again, wow! This! This is God’s wisdom! Man’s wisdom and judgment come nowhere near this. If we are wanting wisdom, as Solomon desired and asked for, we must also seek our wisdom from above! If we try to seek it any other place or try to speak it any other way, our mouths will reveal the truth. For when we speak wisdom, the true test is … is it “first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of  mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy?”

Day 25: The Preserving

For the LORD loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are PRESERVED for ever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off.” Psalm 37:28

Who loves to grow a garden? Is it a flower garden or a vegetable garden? I personally have not grown a garden (either flower or vegetable). First of all, because I have a black thumb! I grew up with my mom having a house full of plants (live ones) and also a garden. I have only been able to keep one live plant alive in my house and it is a start off of one of my grandmother’s so I do make a little more effort with it … although it has its moments as well.

We were just at our friend’s house while traveling for meetings and my husband asked her where her garden was this year. The last time that we were there we got to spend some time out in her garden picking from the fruits of her labors. We not only got to pick, but come supper time, we got to feast on it as well. Yum! This year she only has tomatoes though and they were not ripe yet. I was sharing with her about our fig bushes how big and healthy they are and how abundant the figs are on them this year. So, guess what she did? She gave me a case of pint jars. Why would I need jars? To preserve those figs when they ripen!

For a number of years in the fall time, we had some friends who would bring us bushels (yes, I said bushels!) of apples from the North Carolina mountains. Now, there is nothing better than a mountain apple. But, when I had so many at one time, I needed to preserve them. I did this in a number of ways. One was by making apple pie filling and freezing it. Yum! Another was by baking apple pound cake. Double yum! Yet another was making apple butter. Triple yum!

In this verse, David is reminding us that God has preserved His saints. To preserve means to maintain or more literally  retain. When I think of this, I immediately think of my salvation. God has not only saved me, but He has saved me for ETERNITY! He has retained [continues to keep possession of] my salvation. He has preserved my salvation. Hallelujah! Is not this shouting ground?

Once I am saved, I will ALWAYS be saved. I may sin, but it is not a sin unto the loss of my salvation. Christ died on the cross one time, my friend. He paid it ALL that day. Hebrews 10:10 “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ ONCE FOR ALL.” I will continue to sin, while living in this house of flesh, and Christ will forgive me when I confess that sin to Him, but I do not have to get saved all over again. He did that work ONE time!

God not only preserves me (retains me), but He also preserves me (maintains me). My salvation is secure in His retaining and my life in Christ is also secure in His maintaining. Each and every day, I have the assurance that He is with me! Each and every day, I have the assurance that He will guide me! Each and every day, I have the assurance that He wants what is best for me! Each and every day, I have the assurance that God PRESERVES me! Is He preserving you also, my friend?

Day 24: The Departing

DEPART from evil, and do good; and dwell for evermore.” Psalm 37:27

Have you departed today? To depart means to leave … more specifically for a journey. This is interesting because I always saw the depart as a moving away from, but never as the beginning of something else. As I searched the scriptures for  other departings, guess what I found? I found that when someone departed, they were headed in a different direction … a new destination. Is not this exactly what God desires of us … to depart from (turn our back on) the world and to follow Him?

In today’s world, it seems like everyone is a “Christian.” Yet, it really breaks my heart to see so many who claim Christ as their Savior who do not love the things of God. There is no change in their life. II Corinthians 5:17 tells us, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” If they truly are a Christian (have been saved) for any length of time, there WILL be a change in their life. Can you imagine taking a bath and getting all cleaned up and then putting your old, sweaty, dirty clothes back on? Yuck! Yet, many do this every day spiritually.

James in chapter 3 gives us much instruction also on our tongue. The tongue is a very powerful tool. Not only that, but it is a very powerful indicator of our spiritual life as well. I am not talking about cursing, although we will get to that, but I am talking about “Christians” talking to others, non-Christians and Christians alike, with such hateful and bitter words. Recently I was exposed to this in someone else’s life and to be honest, I was in shock! James lays it on the line right here in verses 10-18 of chapter 3:

10Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing, My brethren, these things ought not so to be! [my punctuation of exclamation]

11Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter:

12Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? Either a vine, figs? So can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.

13Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? Let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.

14But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.

15This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.

16For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.

17But the wisdom that is from above is frist pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.

18And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.

Oh, my friend, please heed this! If you are still doing these things and say that you are a Christian, you are on the wrong path. Depart, my friend! Turn away! Get on the true path of life in Christ! Let Him change you today!

Day 23: The Mercy

He is ever MERCIFUL, and lendeth; and his seed is blessed.” Psalm 37:26

Growing up, I heard the phrase, “Mercy, mercy, Mr. Percy!” Well, I am not sure who Mr. Percy is, but I do know that mercy does not come from a person but from God Himself. Deuteronomy 4:31 “(For the LORD thy God is a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them.”

Mercy is compassion or forgiveness shown to another when it is in your power to punish. Ouch! God shows mercy to us every single day, but how much mercy do we show to others?

Let us look today at some times that God has or will show mercy to us:

Hebrews 4:16 “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” When we are in the need of mercy, let us find ourselves boldly bowing at His throne!

Ephesians 2:4-5 “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved.)” Wow! He showed mercy to us EVEN when we had a life full of sin!

I John 1:9-10 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” So many times, verse 9 is quoted and verse 10 is overlooked. How often do we truly go to God confessing our sins and asking for forgiveness? Not enough, my friend! Why do you think that is? Probably because we do not feel like we have sinned … and therein lies a whole study unto itself! In a nutshell, we do not come often enough before a righteous and holy God to see the obvious difference in our lives. For who can do so and not leave changed?

Micah 6:8 “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” Not only does the Lord require in us to love mercy, but He desires for us to do justly and walk humbly with our God.

Lamentations 3:22-23 “It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” Thank the Lord His mercies are not just a one-time thing, but EVERY morning as I arise from my bed, His mercies are renewed unto me! GREAT is HIS faithfulness!

Lastly, but definitely not least, let us be left with this reminder today … Luke 6:36 “Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.”

Day 22: The Bread

I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging BREAD.” Psalm 37:25

When I think of bread in the Bible, I think of the spiritual food that is the Word of God. In just a few short days, we will be in the middle of the year 2019. Six months will have passed with six more months to go. At the beginning of a New Year, many find themselves making resolutions to read through the Bible that year. I myself have done so before. But, as I grow older, I have come to realize that although the reading of the Bible is a good thing and something that we need to do more often, I feel that we need to take that a step further and actually study the Bible.

II Timothy 2:15 tells us to “STUDY to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” What does this verse tell us to do? To study, correct? There is a difference between reading and studying. In college, I had a professor for History of Civilization that LOVED to give pop quizzes. If I had not read the required reading for that day, you can imagine the outcome. What if I had only had time to read it? What if I had taken time to actually study it? I guarantee there would be a much more pleasant outcome after studying versus reading!

How much time did you spend yesterday reading God’s Word? What about studying it? We need to not only read God’s Word, my friend, but we need to STUDY it! Most people claim to be Christians yet hardly can find time for church and   never pick up their Bible in between times. It is no wonder that we do not grow for we are not eating our spiritual bread that God has provided for us! We cannot grow physically without food and neither can we spiritually!

You do not have to be a college graduate to be able to study and grow from the Bible. Here are a few basic tips from what I do:

· I read and study from a King James Bible with Scofield notes. I use the cross-reference column a lot.

· I have, in the past, used devotional books to give me a scriptural starting point and thought.

· I use an online dictionary to look up words … even ones that I think that I know already, because I have been surprised a time or two! Defining words makes the verse come to life and get more personal for me.

· I use a notebook. I put down the date, the passage of scripture or verse. Any cross-reference verses that I find and any thoughts that God brings to mind.

· I occasionally use the internet to google certain topics or to look up a book in the online commentaries. I also use a Strong’s concordance app.

· If you are looking for an all-in-one type of book to invest in, I suggest Nelson’s three-in-one Bible Reference Companion, which can be found on Amazon inexpensively.

If you are one of the minority who does read and study your Bible daily, what are some things that you find helpful? Do you like to use a devotional book, write in a journal, use commentaries (book form or online) or even type your thoughts out?

Day 21: The Steps

The STEPS of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.” Psalm 37:23

Father’s Day this year has come and gone. If you were on Facebook or the internet for any length of time, I am sure that you saw pictures of fathers holding their son’s hands as they walked along. That seems to be used often during this time of year. They say that “A picture is worth a thousand words.” That is probably most true of this picture. Even though you see it in still life, can you just imagine all the words that have been spoken between the two down through the years as that young lad grew up?

Another popular picture during Father’s Day is a small son trying to follow in the steps of his father. Of course, his legs are shorter and his feet smaller, but he tries none-the-less. Does he fit into each one? No, I am positive that he does not. Yet, that does not stop him from trying. Then an amazing thing happens, that young son begins to grow. His legs get a bit  longer each year. He has new shoes this year because his feet have also grown. Then one day, he becomes that father.

God is our Father and as our Father, he will guide us with His footsteps. David tells us here that “the steps of a good man are ordered [established] by the LORD.” Can you see that here? Our Father has already walked ahead of us paving (establishing) the way, so to speak. We have no reason to question or doubt which path to follow for He already has     established it! How easy is that?

Verse 24 takes our steps a bit further for it says that when “a good man” falls, “he shall not be utterly cast down.” As a child learning to walk, what happens? He will fall. But, when he falls, he does not stay down. No, before you know it, he is back up on his feet trying again. He may not have done it perfectly the first time, but he will not let that hinder him from trying again … and again … and again.

In our Christian walk with God, how many times have we faltered and fallen? We have believed another lie that Satan has told. We have gotten our eyes off of God and onto man. We have let self dictate when and where we will go. There are many stumbling blocks in life, are there not? These are only a few. It only takes one to make us mess up. But, let us not let that one keep us down for the count. Let us rise up and go at it again. One day our legs will be long enough and our feet big enough to fit more comfortably in the pathway that God has established and laid out before us.

Trivia question: How do you know if you are on the right path? There will be joy and delight (verse 23), correct? When we travel, there is no joy or delight when we find that we have taken the wrong path. But, even if we have not reached our destination yet, as long as we stay on the right path, there we find joy and delight. So, let us not forget the truth of that little chorus that we learned as a child in church … “My Lord knows the way through the wilderness. All I have to do is  follow!”

If we follow Him, He will keep us on the right path.