Wicked Among Us

“Help, LORD, for no faithful one remains; the loyal have disappeared from the human race. They lie to one another; they speak with flattering lips and deceptive hearts.”

Who hasn’t felt like that lately?! Even though the tirade sounds typical for today, those words were penned by King David about 3000 years ago. They are the opening verses in Psalm 12 which closes with a similar message. “The wicked prowl all around, and what is worthless is exalted by the human race (Psalm 12:8).

While this Psalm is bookended with verses of despair, let’s see what lies between. Verse 3 contains David’s prayerful plea that the lies and falsehood would cease even though the wicked have no regard for God (verse 4).

God makes a bold entrance in verse 5 as He hears the cries of the needy and steps in to provide and protect.

Next, we find a stark contrast to the words of the wicked. “The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined in an earthen furnace, purified seven times” (Psalm 12:6). The metaphor portrays the words of the LORD as thorough and complete, flawless perfection.

In verse 7, David injects the ingredient we all need, hope. “You, LORD, will guard us; you will protect us from this generation forever.”

The wicked are among us. They do what they do.

So, let’s do what David did.

  • Acknowledge there are wicked among us who lie and try to deceive.
  • Pray regularly for evil to be defeated.
  • Know that God hears and answers the prayers of the righteous.
  • Be familiar with and study God’s Word.
  • Remain faithful to and hopeful in the one, true God.
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Who’s In the Mirror?

According to the Mayo Clinic, a pregnancy glow is real. “Greater blood volume brings more blood to vessels, resulting in skin that looks flushed. Changes in hormone levels might also cause the skin glands on the face to secrete more oil (sebum), which can make skin look slightly shinier.”

Trivia: Do you know what man in the Old Testament glowed so glaringly that he had to wear a veil? If you said Moses ~ BINGO! Exodus 34 describes how his face shone after talking with God and bringing the commandments down from Mt. Sinai. Moses’ supernatural glow was the result of being in the presence of God!

Scripture teaches that believers should also reflect God’s glory. “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Through personal times with the Lord, applying godly principles from His Word, and allowing Him to work in our lives, we become more Christ-like, reflecting His character and responding more like Him. This gradual renovation is the work of the Holy Spirit and transformation transpires as we surrender to Him.

Let’s look in the mirror and examine our heart. Whose ‘image’ are we reflecting? Those we admire on social media or on the big screen? A Hollywood diva or famous athlete? Musician or political personality? Impatient, rude, name-calling bystanders caught on the evening news?

Instead, may we strive to reflect the One who should influence us the most, the LORD.

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De-clutter

It was such an unexpected blessing recently when we received a list of household and classroom items needed by a church in Africa. My ‘mission’ was to scavenge each closet, cabinet, and cranny to locate those objects camouflaged in our house. To us, those things were extras, but for others, they met desperate needs.

I soon felt euphoric as I walked around the house. Sorted shelves, weeded drawers, and cleared spaces made my soul sing.

Hmm, could this concept apply to de-cluttering our spiritual lives as well?

What email subscriptions, social media distractions, phone apps, etc. are sucking time away from what we should focus on? What ‘garbage’ needs discarded for good, for our good? What unhealthy habits need a hefty (and final) heave-ho? Do priorities need reordered, waste trimmed, and clutter cleaned out?

James, the half-brother of Jesus, challenged believers to “Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (James 4:8). Yes, even believers need to regularly recalibrate and assess. Becoming Christ-like is a process. It’s a lifelong journey, a purification progression that melts away impurities to leave pure gold!

May our prayer be “Create in me a pure [clean] heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).

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Mystery Disclosed!

Everyone loves a good mystery, whether we are hearing it, reading it, or watching it painstakingly unfold on the big (or small) screen. As a kid, sifting through and narrowing down the suspects, rooms, and weapons in a Clue game was always intriguing.

But, did you know that before Christ came to earth, “the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to [us], searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow”? Peter noted that “Even the angels long to look into these things” (1 Peter 1:10-12).

Paul eluded to these secrets as well writing, “the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations” (Colossians 1:26) and “the mystery hidden for long ages past” (Romans 16:25).

Praise God that now those mysteries have been disclosed! The ‘who’ is Jesus, the Son of God. The ‘place’ is Jerusalem where Jesus paid for the sins of the world and rose from the dead. The ‘time’ of His death and resurrection was 30AD, and we can read about the ‘circumstances’ in the four gospels.

We have been blessed to have all this information available 24/7 at our fingertips. It does not need to remain a mystery. It has all been spelled out. What angels and prophets longed to understand has been revealed to us, and not to just a chosen few. The good news of salvation is for all people. And ‘all’ means all, no mystery there.

May we treasure the truths we have come to know!

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Reconciler & Ambassador

According to Webster, ‘reconcile’ means to make friendly again, to settle (a quarrel, etc.) or to make compatible or content. An ‘ambassador’ is an authorized representative or messenger.

As believers, we have experienced the gift of being reconciled to God. Because of Christ’s death and resurrection and our belief in that good news, we have a friendly and loving relationship with God. Our debt has been settled. Jesus’s death paid the price for our sins. We can come confidently into the presence of God without guilt or shame because God sees us holy through His Son, Jesus.

Once we are reconciled to God, we take on a new role or assignment, one of a reconciler. Paul explained to the believers in Corinth, “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” and “he has committed to us the message of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).

We have both a ministry and a message, a ministry to show God’s love to others and a message that shares the idea that all can become righteous because of what Jesus did. “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:20-21).

Now that good news should not remain our secret! May we boldly go forth as ambassadors and encourage others to be reconciled to God.

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You Are a Masterpiece

Recently, we stood atop Arizona’s Mogollon Rim. Before us was a spectacular view of pine-covered mountains and valleys. The smells and sounds were a far cry from the city surroundings we’d left behind.

That view, along with late night stargazing, is just a sampling of God’s handiwork. But, believe it or not, the creation of you as a human being is far superior. Only people were created to share God’s image, made in His likeness and reflecting His nature (Genesis 1:26).

Take a look in a mirror. Then, like David, speak these words to your Creator Father God:
“Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day” (Psalm 139:13-16).

God created you, different from all others, yet one of His own. He has given personality, talents, and abilities unique to you that no one else can duplicate. God knows you intimately, your strengths and weakness, and He loves you.

But He’s not finished. The Apostle Paul explained, “There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears” (Philippians 1:6).

Your challenge today is to allow the Creator to continue ‘working’ in you, surrendering to the Master as He works on His masterpiece.

Looking forward to a flourishing finish!

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Seekers of Truth

Today, there are many voices to weigh and discern. Views on where to find truth and who is speaking truth are countless.

After Jesus’s arrest, He explained to the Roman governor, Pilate, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me” (John 18:37).

Earlier in Jesus’s ministry, He taught His disciples, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

The question is, are we truth-seekers? When searching for answers to questions that deal with our eternal destination and how believers should live, I suggest we go to the Word of God, the Holy Bible.

Psalm 86:11 says, “Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.” At the end of verse 10, David proclaims, “(Y)ou alone are God.” King David was known as ‘a man after God’s own heart.’ He was a seeker and worshiper of the one, true God.

Pilate’s response was different. After listening to Jesus, Pilate responded with a curious, “What is truth?” In other words, he chose to ignore and disregard the truth Jesus had specifically shared. He rejected Jesus’s claims as king and Son of God.

On our journey, may we be seekers of truth and as seekers, search out and find truths clearly revealed in Scripture.

May you be blessed as you read God’s Word.

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God’s Response to Rebellion ~ Not What You Think

Today my Bible reading included Psalm 78. Here’s the gist. As an instructional psalm the author gently calls the audience to listen up and remember. Remember the wonders of God, how He had worked miraculously in the lives of the Israelites even when they were stubborn and rebellious.

 “(T)hey did not keep God’s covenant and refused to live by his law. They forgot what he had done, the wonders he had shown them” (Ps. 78:10-11).

What was God’s response? He divided the sea, guided them, and gave them water.

“But they continued to sin against him” (Ps. 78:17). “(F)or they did not believe in God or trust in his deliverance” (Ps. 78:22).

God’s response: He sent bread from heaven and gave them meat.

“In spite of all this, they kept sinning” (Ps. 78:32).

God’s response: “Yet he was merciful; he forgave their iniquities … He remembered that they were but flesh” (Ps. 78:38-39).

“Again and again they put God to the test” (Ps. 78:41).

God’s response: “He chose David his servant … to be the shepherd of his people” (Ps 78:70-71). And, God promised that from David’s offspring, He would establish the throne of His kingdom forever (2 Samuel 7:13).

Jesus came from the line of David as the final King and Shepherd. Despite all our sin and rebellion, Jesus came to love us and die for us in order for us to have an eternal relationship with Him.

How should we respond?
1) May we remember His great sacrifice, the ways He daily blesses and forgives us, and tell this good news to the next generations.
2) When we remember the wonders He has done, we can know that we can trust Him with our future.

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Helping the Sick

Sick family, friends, or neighbors? What can we do?

Last week, we saw how instruction, knowledge, and wisdom can be found in God’s Word. Today, I’d like to ‘feverishly’ search out what we should do to help the sick among us.

“Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well” (James 5:14-15a). According to James, a faithful believer should pray for the sick, and those in church leadership have added responsibilities.

Jesus surprised His listeners when he taught that when we help others, it’s as if we are caring for Jesus Himself (Matthew 25:35-40). Clearly, we have been given the task to look after the sick, making sure their needs are met. Meals, medication, transportation, etc. along with a word of encouragement and prayer seem like the least we can do.

May we be faithful to do what the Lord has called us to do. Let’s do our part and leave the rest up to God.

May you be blessed with good health.

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Daily ‘Cup of Dew’

Acronyms and abbreviations have become a part of our daily lives … and not just when texting. LOL! Many acronyms and abbreviations relate to one’s occupation. When I taught elementary school, there was a whole list of education-related abbreviations. As a writer, I’ve learned a whole new set. Even many businesses and churches are now known by the initial letters of their name.

After studying the book of Proverbs a couple years ago, I worked to create an acronym that summarized the key concepts that echoed throughout the book, the things we are to search out and that God would provide. The teachings of King Solomon focused on wisdom, knowledge, instruction, understanding, prudence, and discernment. These are the things I wanted to remember to daily ask God for as I studied His Word and desired to apply it to my life.

With a little manipulation, I came up with:
            Knowledge
            Understanding
            Prudence (and Purity)
            Discernment (and Discretion and Decision-making)
            Instruction (and Insight)
           Wisdom

I continue to use this memory aid today. For me, it’s asking God for a daily, heavenly ‘Cup of Dew.’ I realize it’s not a perfect letter match, but it works for me. (If you create your own mnemonic acronym, I’d love to hear it!)

“For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2:6).

I encourage you to search out godly knowledge, wisdom, instruction, and the rest found in the Word of God. You’ll be surprised how this ancient text will speak into your daily circumstances. Really, take a sip.

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