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My God, I trust you. Do not let me be disgraced; do not let my enemies laugh at me. Psalm 25:2

People let us down.

That’s not by any means an earth-shattering statement. Sometimes they let us down unintentionally. They have every intention of fulfilling their promise but are unable to do so because of some unexpected circumstance.

Other times they are unable to fulfill their promise because they underestimated their ability to carry out the work they said they would do.

Sometimes, they just forget the obligation they made to you.

And, there are those who, much as we hate to admit it, make a promise that they had no intention of keeping. They quite simply intended on deceiving you.

When promises are broken they cause wounds. The wounds broken promises cause are directly proportional to the importance of the thing promised to us. As an adult, the broken promise of a friend to meet us for coffee is relatively small and easily handled. The broken promise of a parent to be at a child’s ball game may seem small to the parent, but is very painful to the child.

The worst part about a broken promise is the destruction of trust. You trusted your spouse to stay true to the vows they spoke. Now you find out they’ve been cheating on you and you can never trust them again. Your boss promised you the promotion but filled the position from outside, and now your confidence in your job (and yourself) has been dashed. Your parents promised you a family heirloom when they died and you discover they’ve given it to someone else.

Broken trust wounds the soul. Broken trust makes you feel like a fool. Broken trust makes you feel like you are the object of ridicule to all those around you.

“You should have known better.” they say.

“Don’t know why you didn’t see that coming.”

“What did you expect?”

The arrows hit home. They lodge deep in the soul. As a child you may think, I can never trust my mom and dad. God promised me things too. If my parents don’t keep their promises, God won’t keep his either.

As an adult you resolve that you will never be hurt again. You will never take the chance on love. You will never let anyone control you to that extent again. You will never allow yourself to feel this pain.

It’s with this in mind that David pens the words of Psalm 25. David knew about broken promises. David knew the hearts of men could not be trusted. His prayer to his God is that he would not be let down, not embarrassed, not disgraced or laughed at or ridiculed for his faith in a God who was unseen and at times unpredictable.

We serve a God we can trust. Unlike humans, there is never a promise he was unable to keep. Sometimes we need to look back to see how he fulfilled his promises. Sometimes he fulfills them in ways we don’t expect. But you can trust him. He is willing and able to do just as he said he’d do…in his way…in his time. You can count on it. He promised.

PRAYER: Father there have been many times I’ve broken promises to others. I confess sometimes those promises were broken intentionally. Other times I was unable to fulfill my obligation. I thank you for never, ever letting us down. Thank you that I can trust you to do just as you say. Amen.

You have done many good things for me, Lord, just as you promised. Psalm 119:65 (NLT)

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,

When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

As I write this post our nation is watching as fires of epic proportions and disastrous flooding inundates our beautiful countryside. From a distance we watch the devastation unfold. To most of us, it’s a news story with little or no personal connection. To those connected in anyway it will be remembered as one of the darkest periods in their lives as memories and perhaps even lives are wiped away in an instant.

As I read Psalm 119:26 the words of the old hymn “Count your blessings” came to mind. Counting your blessings is easy when you are removed from hardship. When life is good, the bills are paid, the kids are behaving and your spouse is understanding and helpful, counting your blessings is fun. Oddly enough, counting your blessings is more important when life is hard than when it is good.

When the hard times of life come and you see no hope remember what the Lord has done for you. When sleep evades you and you lie awake at night, use that time to think back over the positive things that God has brought into your life. Sometimes it will be difficult. Other times it may be impossible. The last thing the enemy wants you to do is to count your blessings because counting your blessings destroys despair.

The Psalmist knew the secret power of praise. He knew that looking back was the best way to move forward because looking back showed us the reality of God’s presence in our lives.

I can’t imagine the devastation of standing hopelessly by and watching my home and all the things I’ve worked for go up in smoke. I’ve been blessed thus far in the fact that a flood has never washed away my dreams. But I’ve seen the devastation of divorce. I’ve struggled with job loss, with financial devastation and poor choices. In the midst of those times when the memories of the past threaten to paralyze my future, I can look back and see that even in those darkest times my Heavenly Father has never left my side.

“You have done many good things for me Lord, just as you promised.”

The promises of God are unchangeable. The promises of God are not influenced by natural disaster or political grandstanding. The promises of God are unlimited. He will never leave us or forsake us because of his great love.

PRAYER: Father, today my prayer is simply the prayer of the psalmist. You have done many good things for me, just as you promised, and for that I praise you. Amen.

The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” Jonah 1:1-2

I’ve heard the story of ‘Jonah and the Whale’ retold hundreds of times in Sunday School,VacationBibleSchool, Sunday sermons and even a few theology classes. I know all about the typology of Jonahs three days in the belly of a fish and Jesus’ three days in the tomb.

I know the lesson about not running from God, about the faith Jonah had and how ungrateful he was. I know the story about the faithfulness and forgiveness of God as evidenced by his holding back the judgment promised because of the repentance of the city ofNineveh.

Yet there is another part of this story that escaped me until recently. The Biblical record tells us little about Jonah’s background other than the fact that he was a prophet and that he chose to run from God rather that go where God sent him.

Jonah was most likely a good prophet. His ability to preach the word of God is evidenced by the fact that his message brought a city of 120,000 people to their knees, literally. But Jonah was also a proud and stubborn man. When questioned on the boat about whom he was he proudly testified to his heritage (“I am a Hebrew”) and his theology (“I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” Jonah 1:9).

His stubbornness is evidenced by the fact that he refused to follow the leading of the very God he professed to worship and then became angry when God relented of his judgment over repentantNineveh.

Stubbornness and pride are two things God can not honor in a ministry, and all of us, regardless of our walk in life are ministers in some way to the Father. We can be successful, but we will never experience the full measure of God’s blessing if we are governed by pride and stubbornness.

Nineveh can stand for anything that goes against our cultural heritage and our doctrinal/theological distinctives. Ninevehwasn’t the squeaky clean, suburban ministry. It was the little rural church made up of people who were content to stay the way they are. It was the inner city ministry with little money and large problems. It was no place for someone who rigidly stuck to their doctrine.

Nineveh didn’t need more religion, they needed relationship and Jonah was unwilling to give it to them. The story of Jonah is a story of grace. God asked Jonah to show grace to a people he disagreed with culturally, religiously and socially and Jonah refused. His story begs an answer from each of us. If we believe we are called to be ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ (and Matthew 28 gives us that charge) are we willing to passionately pursue those who are different than us in order to show them the forgiveness, mercy and love of Jesus Christ? Jonah wasn’t called to preach his own opinions; he was called to turn people towards the God of heaven, a God who passionately desires to bring ALL people to himself. If your Father calls you to preach to a group of people you dislike, are you willing to go in love?

PRAYER: Father, the message of Jonah is renewed in my heart today. I confess to you that I’ve been close-minded in ministry because of my own standards and doctrine. Open my heart and my eyes to those to whom I’ve been withholding your word by my deeds and attitudes. Amen.

Who is this glorious King? The Lord, strong and mighty. The Lord, the powerful warrior. Psalm 24:8 (NCV)

It’s a rather peculiar phenomenon in the animal kingdom. The Martin will spend days building her nest in preparation for laying eggs and raising their young. Soon after that, a sparrow may decide that the martin nest looks like a pretty cool abode and take it over. That’s right, the little, calm looking; harmless sparrow steals the nest from the Martin. Sometimes even pushing eggs or newly hatched young out onto the ground. But the sparrow’s home isn’t secure either. Starlings have been known to come in and take over the nest the sparrow stole from the Martin!

The problem in this picture is that Martin and Sparrow had the ability to build their home, but not defend it. What the Martin needs is someone to fight on their behalf. Someone to defend all they’ve worked for, to protect their investment.

Like the Martin, each of us sets out to make a life for ourselves. It may not necessarily be a conscious thought, but in the backrooms of our minds we have an idea of what we’d like life to look like. Few of us include, in those plans, divorce, bankruptcy, cancer or the untimely death of a loved one.

The plans we have though are often disrupted, diverted or destroyed by life. The Sparrows and Starlings of life attack us. We didn’t plan on becoming addicted to drugs. We didn’t plan on the affair happening, it just did. We didn’t include in our plans the rebellious child or the disinterested spouse.

Like the Martin, what we need is a defender. Someone who can protect us from the attacks of evil in our lives. Someone who can walk us through the battle ground to the others side. Each of us needs someone we can call on when doubt, worry, anger and frustration raise their ugly heads.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we had someone like that to call on in our time of distress? Religion will try to tell you it has the answer. Politicians have plenty of ideas of how funding can solve this problem or that. Friends and family always seem to have advice. But what we need is a warrior we can count on. Someone who not only knows how to wage battle against the evil one, but knows how to win.

The Psalmist says, ‘The Lord is a powerful warrior’. Most scholars agree that the ‘Lord’ in this passage not only refers to God the Father, but points towards Jesus Christ, his Son. The word picture is clear. There are many things along the path we call life that are there to distract us and destroy our dreams. Reliance on our mighty warrior, Jesus Christ, assures us that even though the battle may be tough, he will fight for us. He is a mighty warrior who believes in us and sees us as worth fighting for.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, as I enter the battle of life ahead of me I see many enemies. Many who are intent on taking away my peace, my trust, my future. Thank you for being a mighty warrior I can count on in the midst of battle. Amen.

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. Psalm 24:1 (NIV)

Walk through any art exhibit or museum and you will see display after display of the giftedness of some people. Some works of art bring a high price tag. Why? Because the maker of that particular work of art is famous. He/she is well-known for their talent.

Someone who has established themselves as being excellent in a particular area (such as writing, the arts, speaking, etc.) may enjoy the privilege of having their work elevated above others simply because of their name. The value of an item is determined by the value of its maker.

What’s true in the world of the arts is true throughout life as well. When you travel, are you drawn to your favorite restaurant for food, or do you tend to look for the small café off the beaten path?

If you buy one brand of automobile and have bad luck with it and with the service, are you likely to go back to that maker or are you inclined to give someone else a try?

If you have a bad experience with one company, how does your mind react when the person across the table tells you they just got a new job at that company?

Our reaction to products, places and events is often determined by the experiences we’ve had in the past with their maker. If we aren’t careful, we can find ourselves doing the same thing with the people we come across.

When we see a person of a particular race, or wearing a particular type of dress, or speaking to a particular topic, or living a particular lifestyle, it’s easy to draw conclusions about the person themselves. The Psalmist reminds us that God made everything and EVERYONE in the world. “All who live in it” is pretty inclusive language.

How will your reaction to others change if you treat them as God’s creation? To be sure their actions may repulse you, but is their value in what they do or who made them?

When Jesus looked at the leper he saw value based on the fact that God made the leper. When Jesus saw the prostitute, he saw her as valued, not because of her lifestyle but because of her maker. How then shall we view those with different lifestyles, different beliefs, or different cultural backgrounds?

As Christ-followers we are called to spread the good news of Jesus to ALL people. To show Christ’s love effectively we must show others their value is based on their maker and not their actions, past, or current lifestyle. Our job is to love others. God’s job is to change them.

PRAYER: Lord, everyday I come in contact people on who are different than I am in action, creed or background. While I may not agree with how they live, empower me with your Spirit to show them the value they have as your creation. Amen.

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June 2012
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