Strength To Your Arm

STRENGTH TO YOUR ARM

“The Lord gives strength to everyone who is good”. 
Ps 37:17 CEV 

A few years ago a tall, thin woman won a tough tennis match at Wimbledon. Admiring her physical presence that dominated the court, the television commentator remarked, “Wow! What a wingspan!” We all wish we were stronger. Our physical strength is never enough for what our dreams call us to do and be. Our intellectual powers fall short of what we wish we could understand and master. Our powers of endurance give in before we get to the crucial finishing line – whatever that line might be. Our courage fails 

us when we come to some acid test.
God is the person to whom we turn for help and strength. 

The poet who penned this sentence had also experienced the frustration of discovering his own limitations. But he knew his God and had been given additional resources with which to face life’s struggles and workload. He believed this extra strength was given by God to those who were good. But it was faith, rather than good deeds that enabled God to help him. 

Centuries later the apostle Paul was able to say, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Phil 4:13 NIV). A man of enormous intellectual powers who had great powers of endurance and faced huge physical challenges, Paul found his exceptional personal strength in Jesus Christ. His close walk with Christ lifted him up to greater heights than he would have managed on his own. 

Look to Christ for your strength. However strong or weak you may be, acknowledge that your greatest need is spiritual power and that it comes from Christ alone. And the weaker you are, the greater his strength will be for you. 

Lord, in my weakness fill me with your power.

WHERE TO LOOK FOR HAPPINESS

WHERE TO LOOK FOR HAPPINESS

“Seek your happiness in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desire”. 
Ps 37: 4 GNB 

Everyone wants happiness. But different people have widely differing ideas of what happiness is and how to get it. Someone said, “The happiest people don’t have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God”. Abraham Lincoln said, “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be”. 

Whoever framed this verse from the Book of Psalms had various options open when considering happiness. He found it, not in amassing a fortune, nor in achieving great success, nor even in having a well-functioning family. He found happiness in his relationship with God. Knowing God helped him to live with the day-to-day ups and downs of life. Having faith meant that he saw the bigger picture of human life, the world, work and nature. From his faith in God he derived love, peace, strength and hope. 

Seek your happiness not in things, but in Jesus Christ. When you give your life to him he will start working in you to enable you to grow spiritually, live calmly, be creative, love people and keep a sense of balance. He will give you your heart’s desire – but he may well guide you to desire what your normal craving for things would not want. He will help you to order your priorities, manage your money, make the most of your potential as a person and to have a good healthy laugh sometimes. In a human sense you are the maker of your own happiness. In a much deeper sense Jesus is. 

Lord, help me to be happy in Jesus.

Jesus, The Light That Overcomes Darkness

Jesus, The Light That Overcomes Darkness

“I have come as light into the world, that everyone who believes in Me may not remain in darkness.” – John 12:46
Have you ever been in a situation where the darkness was so powerful that light could not overcome it? I remember touring a cave when all the lights were turned off. I couldn’t see a thing. I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face! And then the guide simply lit a match–one match–and we could see all over the cave, because darkness cannot overcome the light.

Jesus says He is the light of the world, the embodiment of how to know God and how to live life. You may feel your life is engulfed in darkness. You may feel bewildered at not having discovered the answer to life. Invite Christ into your life and the light will be turned on, no matter how much darkness you’ve experienced. Life will begin to make sense and you’ll be filled with hope and understanding.

Here’s more good news. When we do this, Jesus says we can be a light to others by pointing people who are in the dark to the light–the light of Christ.

The Value Of Values

THE VALUE OF VALUES

“It is better to live right and be poor than to be sinful and rich”. 
Ps 37:16 CEV 

Money is one of the great problem areas of life. However much or little you have you will need to be wide awake and careful to avoid the problem of debt and overspending. For the vast mass of humanity, making ends meet is a never-ending struggle. Managing money is a major life-task for everyone. 

The Hebrew poet who wrote Psalm 37 (probably five hundred years or more before Christ) knew how important money was. But he also knew that it wasn’t the be-all and end-all of life. He knew that there were more important things and that your character and integrity were vital. In his value-system living right before God was better than to have a lot of money. He also knew that sinful people often made a lot of money by their very sinfulness. He probably noticed that wealth has a tendency to encourage people to be sinful, for the acquisition of money tends to lead people to value wealth higher than anything else. It makes them self-satisfied. And it tends to make them want even more – more than is good for them. 

Jesus had much to say about money. He mentioned it in various contexts. He too warned about the danger of riches, observing how wealth can corrupt a person and become an obstacle to people’s walk with God. Ask yourself what you prize most. Has money got you, or have you got money in its proper place? It is of course quite possible to turn money into a ministry by generosity and caring. This is how Jesus wants his disciples to exercise stewardship – with care, responsibility and love. What do you value most? 

Lord, help me to maintain a Christian sense of values.

Live And Be Safe

LIVE AND BE SAFE

“Live in the land and be safe”.
Ps 37:3 GNB 

Amongst the many other problems of living in this world in the first years of the twenty-first century there is the question of security. Crime is on the increase, seemingly in many parts of the world. It is particularly bad in South Africa – for all people. It means great care has to be taken at all times to protect one’s life and property. 

Life was not easy in ancient Israel. They were always in danger of being attacked by the big powers that resided to the north and the south of Israel. As the psalm-writer looked at it though, there were certain things that were out of human control. Trusting in God meant leaving those things to God and not getting “over het-up” about them. The duty of the believer in God was to trust God and get on with living. He had his daily work assigned to him, and this was where he worked out his walk with God and fulfilled his responsibility to his Lord. “Living in the land” really means “getting on with your job” and also living close to the God who had the affairs of nations in his hands. 

It is still good advice for Christian followers today. Take careful security precautions, trust yourself to the Lord and don’t become a “security freak”. Proceed with your daily tasks, pray to Christ for guidance and protection, and follow his example of perfect trust in the Father. Remember how he faced the ordeal of the crucifixion with calm courage and deep faith – and with enemies stalking him on all sides. Be as strong as he was and carry on with your life amid the tumult. 

Lord, help me to live safely and with deep faith in you.

Fools

Fools

“In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” – Proverbs 3:6

You make a fool of yourself when you argue with an ass. The Bible tells of a man named Balaam in Numbers 22. He was headed in the wrong direction. He wanted to please himself and was ignoring God, so God spoke to him through his donkey. Balaam was furiously mad at the animal! He argued with it and almost beat it to death until he realized that God was seeking to speak to him, to help him get on the right path.

Sometimes God goes to extraordinary means to get our attention when we are hell-bent on going our own self-destructive ways. It could come through a financial jolt or through a rebellious child. When those times come, getting angry may be foolish, but taking time to listen may be the key to seeking God’s guidance about the right way to go.

Is God trying to get your attention to keep you from making a fool of yourself? Take time to listen and He’ll change your course and get you where you need to go.

Does God Laugh?

DOES GOD LAUGH?

“The wicked plot against the righteous and gnash their teeth at them; but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he knows their day is coming”. 
Ps 37:12, 13 NIV 

Having a sense of humour can often be helpful. It enables you to smile at the odd ways of people and at the silly things they say. Judiciously used it can ease a tense situation, bring a more balanced perspective on problems and enable people to relax. It can also highlight contradictions and inconsistencies. 

It is true that evil people do plot against the good people of this world. They sometimes exploit them commercially, oppress them in the work situation, and inflict crimes which cause suffering in many different situations. In the modern world these practices often end in court proceedings. Certainly they cause resentment and division. But the poet thinks that God has them so “taped” that he can just laugh at their short-term victories and futile schemes. The idea that God can be so conceived in such human terms is quite common in the Old Testament. 

Jesus took the whole problem of suffering to a new level. He did not offer any explanation for it. Neither did he come out with elabo- rate theories. He entered into human suffering in all its forms by dying on the cross, enduring pain and rising in triumph on Easter Day. His approach to suffering and death has brought joy, if not laughter, to countless believers who have no other source of com- fort or meaning to which to turn in the darkness of death and anguish. But in place of despair he gave hope. In place of desolation he brought comfort and friendship. That is our greatest need in the face of suffering. 

Lord, help me to be strong and brave when faced by suffering.