“I look up to the mountains— does my help come from there? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth!” Psalm 121:1-2 (NLT)

What do you do when you feel helpless? Helplessness can soon turn to hopelessness if we don’t know where to turn. As steady and solid as the mountains are, the Psalmist realized he needed someone to turn to who could provide help. We all experience situations in life that stretch our resources and abilities to the max, and we need help. God allows those circumstances in our lives that require us to turn to Him for the help we need. When Jesus told His disciples to feed the five thousand on the hillside one day, they discovered that their extremities were God’s opportunities! The same is true of you and me today. When we face impossible situations beyond our ability or resources, we have a choice to make. We can crater under the pressure, feeling helpless and hopeless, or we can do what the Psalmist did and experience God’s help. Continue reading

“Turn to me and have mercy on me, because I am lonely and hurting.” Psalm 25:16 (NCV)

Psychologist M. Scott Peck writes, “Once we truly know that life is difficult—once we truly understand and accept it—then life is no longer difficult.”  Have you accepted that reality?  It does take some of the pressure off from thinking that, somehow, our life is the exception to the rule.  Everyone around us seems to be doing great. What’s wrong with me? Continue reading

“Declare me innocent, O LORD, for I have acted with integrity; I have trusted in the LORD without wavering.”  Psalm 26:1 (NLT)

Mistreatment can send you into an emotional tailspin.  It’s unfair, and it hurts. How do you take it when you’ve been done wrong? It’s one of the greatest challenges in life. Whether it comes from people we know – and thought were friends – or from strangers, mistreatment is hard to take. Everything inside us wants to fight back. I don’t deserve this! This isn’t fair! The world says, “Don’t get mad. Get even!” “Revenge is sweet!” But, if you’ve ever responded like that, you have felt the hollowness it brings.  That sweet promise of revenge soon turns bitter, and we wallow in our hurt. Injustice is the product of a fallen world.

In Psalm 26, David shows us how he was able to respond with integrity in the face of mistreatment. Continue reading

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’ Surely He will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” Psalm 91:1-4 (NIV)

We live in a dangerous world that can often leave us feeling vulnerable.  When those emotions begin to threaten my security and drain me of my confidence, I turn to Psalm 91.  It’s packed with encouragement and assurance of God’s protection and peace. Meditate on this Psalm for a moment until its message calms your heart and restores your peace.  Practice the presence of God as you learn to dwell in the shelter of the Most High. Continue reading

“When I am ready to give up, He knows what I should do….”  Psalm 142:3 (TEV)

Have you ever felt like giving up?  You’re not alone.  Even pastors feel the same – usually on Monday mornings.  Psalm 142 was a prayer of David when he felt overwhelmed and desperate!  He was on the run from King Saul as a fugitive, falsely accused and condemned – wanted dead or alive!  What do you do when you feel like giving up?  Godly men throughout scripture fell victim to such feelings.  Like David, the great prophet Elijah felt that way and, like David, he too went on the run and hid in a cave to try and figure out what to do next.  It was there in the solitude of the cave that God spoke to His men as they cried out in despair.  Their stories provide help for us when we’re ready to throw in the towel and quit.  Whether you are feeling that way or not, it is likely that one day you will. To be forewarned is to be forearmed. Continue reading

“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” Psalm 1:1-3 (NIV)

Jesus summed up the entire Old Testament Law with a simple statement we know as the Great Commandment.  He said,

“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’” Matt. 22:37 (NIV) 

Love trumps law because love comes from the heart!  When we truly love God, obeying Him is never an issue.  When the heart is right, the hand is swift to do the right thing. That kind of love results from understanding and experiencing how much God loves you.  When you initially experience the love of God, your life is changed forever!  You’ll never be the same.  You begin a personal intimate relationship with the God who made you, redeemed you, and loves you beyond your imagination.  It’s a relationship of the heart that affects your whole being. Old things, the Bible says, begin to pass away; habits, thoughts, behaviors; and all things become new! Continue reading

“The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the LORD holds them by the hand.” Psalm 37:23-24 (NLT)

God not only longs for us to delight in Him, but the Psalmists says He delights in us. In fact, He delights in every detail of our lives! Even when we stumble, the Bible says, God will never let us fall beyond recovery because He holds us by the hand! How personal is that? This same Psalm describes five common heart conditions that can cause us to stumble. These emotional ups and downs of life contribute to the dis-ease of our hearts every day and threaten to make us subject to them. But, God offers the prescription for a healthy heart that can make the emotional roller coaster of life not only bearable, but real fun! So, instead of gripping the safety harness in sheer terror, let’s throw our hands to the sky and enjoy the ride of our lives! Psalm 37 tells us how:

  • First, trust God’s promises over my emotions.

Our emotions can be difficult to deal with. If we don’t learn to master our emotions, they will master us and life will become subject to how we feel. The truth is that emotions are neither right nor wrong. We can’t always dictate how we feel, but we can decide what to do with those feelings. The Psalmist says, “Trust in the LORD and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.” (Vs. 3) Choose to trust God’s promises over your emotions. Then, do good. Do the right thing even if you don’t feel like it at the time. When you do, God promises you will safely and prosper.

  • Take delight in God’s presence instead of focusing on how I feel.

Verse 4 says, “Take delight in the LORD, and He will give you your heart’s desires.” What are the desires of your heart? Self-centered people focus on how they feel. It’s all about me. The problem with that is it results in a miserable life. But, when we begin to delight in God’s presence, our desires shift and reflect His desires. Then, He is able to give us the desires of our heart. We are no longer controlled by what we feel. Our delight is in the presence of God who is not only with us but for us and in us!

  • Turn humbly to God’s power instead of my own willpower.

Our willpower can only get us so far in life. When life gets out of your control and you’ve come to the point of giving up, you’re in a good place. But, instead of giving up, give your life over to God’s power and control. The Psalmists reminds us that, even when we stumble with the emotional ups and downs of life, God will never let us fall for the LORD holds us by the hand. Put your hand in His! Feel the grip of His strength when you’ve lost your own. Grace is not your ability to hold on to God. Grace is the grip of God when you let go! In verse 34, the Psalmist’s said, “Put your hope in the LORD. Travel steadily along His path.” His path will have ups and downs with unforeseen circumstances. But, when you humbly turn to God’s power instead of your own willpower, it will become an adventure of faith!

“Take delight in the LORD, and He will give you your heart’s desires.” Psalm 37:4 (NLT)

What are the desires of your heart?  God longs to grant them, but there is a condition with this promise.  Did you see it?  Before He will give you your heart’s desires, the Psalmist, David, says you must first take delight in the LORD.  Do you?  What does it mean to delight in the Lord?  God longs for us to know Him and enjoy His presence forever!  He created you and me for fellowship with Him.  We were made by God and for God.  In fact, our hearts are restless until we find our rest in Him. Continue reading

“When I am afraid, I will trust in you.” Psalm 56:3 (NIV)

Imagine being falsely accused and on the run for your life! You’re considered “Public Enemy Number One” by the President no less. It’s doubtful any of us will know exactly how David felt in this Psalm, but we do understand how fear can mess up our lives and relationships. We are either controlled by fear or by faith. What controls you? Do you find yourself overcome by feelings of dread? Continue reading

“Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go; give the command to save me, for You are my rock and my fortress.” Psalm 71:3 (NIV)

Many times, life feels like a roller coaster ride of high hills and huge dips where it’s easy to let our emotions start to control us. The Book of Psalms offers help on handling the emotional ups and downs of life. It’s the personal journal of a man after God’s own heart who endured great challenges and yet found divine strength that enabled him to not only survive but to thrive!  You may feel overwhelmed, but you don’t have to be overcome!  When we personalize the promises in the Book of Psalms, we get perspective that gives us balance and stability. Life is hard.  Anxieties within and adversaries from without can compound our feelings of insecurity and leave us emotionally drained and afraid.  But, in this Psalm, we find a place to run, a rock of refuge to which we can always go!  That place is a person!  The Psalmist cried, You (God) are my rock and my fortress!  
Continue reading

Liberating Truths About the Ten Commandments

“You must be holy because I, the LORD, am holy. I have set you apart from all other people to be My very own.” Leviticus 20:26 (NLT)

The greater challenge than getting Israel out of Egypt was getting Egypt out of Israel. For over 400 years, Israel had been enslaved in a land that was not their own, exposed to all the pagan practices, culture, and false gods of the Egyptians. The very wonders God directed Moses to perform before the Exodus, referred to as the “ten plagues”, were sent by the God of Israel to prove that He was the “one true God” who alone was far greater than all of the multiple gods of Egypt.  In keeping with His covenant to Abraham, God used Moses to lead His people out of Egypt that He may bring them into their own land.  They were brought out of bondage and slavery that they may be brought in to freedom and blessing. Continue reading

Liberating Truths About the Ten Commandments

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.

You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife,

or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey,

or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

Exodus 20:17 (NIV)

The First and Tenth Commandments deal with the heart while the other eight focus on outward actions that begin in the heart. Covetous people will break all of God’s commandments to satisfy their desires. To covet is to want what someone else has. Its twin is envy which is resenting that they even have what you don’t. A covetous heart is a discontented soul. The only antidote to coveting is contentment. Are you content in who you are and with what you have? Continue reading

Liberating Truths About the Ten Commandments

“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.” Exodus 20:16 (NIV)

“Tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” If we kept the Ninth Commandment, we wouldn’t have to swear this oath in court before we testified. In fact, we may not even need a court if people valued truth. While some dodge the truth or bend it to fit their needs, others say, “I just tell it like it is!” Ephesians 4:15 tells us to speak the truth in love. Are you truthful? How do you share the truth? The truth is words can hurt or heal. Even a rebuke given in love is designed to heal, not to hurt – to correct, not condemn. Continue reading

Liberating Truths About the Ten Commandments 

“You shall not steal.” Exodus 20:15 (NIV) 

Have you ever had anything stolen from you?  It leaves you feeling violated, vulnerable, and angry.  Almost immediately, you’re asking yourself, “How could they do it? It wasn’t theirs to take!  I would never take something that wasn’t mine!”  God values honesty and gives us a simple command that protects our property and integrity if we follow it.  Yet, this command is probably one of the most violated commands among Christ followers today.  Almost immediately, you may respond, “not me!”  “I’m not a thief.”  Before you go there, let’s read what God says through a Prophet named Malachi to those who called themselves God’s chosen people. Continue reading

Liberating Truths About the Ten Commandments

“You shall not steal.  You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.  You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” Exodus 20:15-17 (NIV) 

I’m bundling the final three Commandments because they speak to the crisis in our culture today.  It’s an integrity crisis.  We see it professionally, politically and even in the church.  An integrity crisis results from a loss of values.  The Ten Commandments show us what God values.  When we align our values with His, we can live a life of integrity.  Proverbs 10:9 says, “The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out.” Continue reading