Scripture for Today: Psalm 111:4 “He has caused his wonders to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and compassionate.”
This week, North Americans remember on Memorial Day those soldiers who have fallen to secure our freedom. We need these special days to remember. Memories fade without them or without a physical memento to remind us. These dog tags hang in the Old North Memorial Garden near the Old North Church in Boston, MA. They commemorate those who have lost their lives in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. Today we can identify remains through DNA. Even so, dog tags are still issued. They serve as an important reminder of sacrifice.
And we need important reminders. Today’s verse teaches us one of the many ways the Lord shows us His grace and compassion. He helps us remember. He knows that we are forgetful. We continually need His reminders of the wonders He has done. He brings them to mind at the most opportune time; when we are depressed and our soul is downcast (Ps. 42:6) and when we are on our bed and all is quiet. (Ps. 63:6) We find comfort when we remember His Word. (Ps. 119:52)
My tendency is to forget what I have studied in His Word, what I have seen and experienced of His wonders. Over time, they fade from my heart. (Deut. 4:9) if I am not careful and watch myself closely. It seems to be my default setting. But when I forget, I will need to learn it all over and over again, rather than growing in my faith! I may not have dog tags, but I have His many reminders through His Word and His personal reassurances of His faithfulness in the past!
This cross is thought to be the tallest in the world, standing at 492 feet in Madrid, Spain. It is so prominent that it can be seen from 40 miles away! Built between 1940-1958, it sits atop a monument to immortalize the fallen, which explains the monument’s name, “The Valley of the Fallen.” Roughly 34 thousand combatants are buried there, from both sides of their civil war. Half the fallen are buried on one side and half on the other.
Today’s verse describes two ways people view the cross of Christ, especially remembered on Good Friday. It continues to be a symbol of sacrificial love throughout the centuries. For those who are being saved it is a positive symbol of our salvation. We celebrate a cross where death led to life everlasting. But for those who are perishing the cross is foolishness. It signifies indignity and failure, rather than the power by which we are saved.
The cross continues to polarize. There is no middle ground as we are on one side or the other. We are all in the Valley of the Fallen, having fallen short of God’s standards. (Rom. 3;23) Like the two thieves crucified with Jesus, there are only two responses. I either place my trust in Christ as my substitute, or I remain in my sin. What power in this cross of Jesus! His power snatched me from darkness and placed me in His wonderful light! (I Peter 2:9) Because of the cross I have hope. I have life, forgiveness, and healing! The power of the cross is that it cancels the power of my guilt and shame!
Lord, I am eternally grateful for the power of Your cross.
Scripture for Today: Proverbs 30:28 “…a lizard can be caught with the hand, yet it is found in kings’ palaces.”
I have always thought of lizards as friends. They eat those nasty insects after all. But I have quite a different feeling about them if they manage to find their way into my house! And certainly they have no place on this chess board, hanging out with the kings and queens. One would think that their presence indoors would be due to some terrible lapse in housekeeping. But of course, all that is needed is an open door for them to slip in unnoticed.
Today’s verse comes from a passage about four of God’s creatures described as wise: the ant, the hyrax or rock badger, the locust and the lizard (verses 24-27). The lizard is easily caught, even by a child. Yet he manages to find his way into a very secure place; the king’s palace. What a strange sight to see him where he does not belong! But he does not know that.
The incongruity of a lizard in a palace is the same incongruity of any blessing in my life! If I have wisdom, it is from fearing the Lord. If I find myself lunching with an American President’s brother, it had nothing to do with me! If I have rubbed shoulders with television celebrities or found myself in social events way above my station in life, it is all a grace I cannot explain. But far above these one-dimensional examples, God invites me to come freely into His throne room (Heb. 4:16) and enjoy His grace!
Thank you Lord, for the grace you show this lowly lizard!
Scripture for Today: Psalm 19:11 By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward.”
(photo credit: scienceimage.csiro.au/image/10564)
The ship was crossing the channel, taking all of our family to England from France for a house exchange. We were thankful that no one suffered any sea sickness, there were no sudden squalls and we did not see rats making for the exits! Of course, if we had, we would have been plenty worried. It is a common belief that rats know when to flee a sinking ship. Some research seems to indicate that animals can pick up “infrasonic” sound pulses created by storms and earthquakes, giving them a head start toward safety. If I saw rats running for their lives, I would consider that a warning and follow!
Today’s verse promises reward for keeping God’s laws and decrees. That is the positive side. The negative side in this verse is that they also serve as a warning. Like the rats headed for the exit, God’s commandments give us warning. They let us know when we are headed toward trouble. God, in His grace, alerts us through His Word so that we can avoid needless heartbreak. Following His way rather than our own keeps us out of harm’s way.
My sin can hurt. It complicates my life and results in brokenness. But it does not have to be that way when I pay attention to His warning signs. It is so unpopular to speak of absolutes in the realm of right and wrong but these are not my words. God delineates very clearly in His Word between what is good and evil, black and white, dark and light. He makes it clear so I do not add senseless pain and guilt to my life.
Help me Lord, to see Your commandments as positive and loving.
Scripture for Today: Colossians 2:6-7 “So then, just as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught and overflowing with thankfulness.”
I thought it odd to see this huge palm tree being trucked to a different home. The new owners must have gone to quite a bit of trouble and cost to transplant such a huge tree. The driver told us that the price tag to move and transplant it was $10,000! How awful if this majestic tree were to fail to take root in its new home!
Today’s verse describes how as believers we are rooted in a different soil. No longer are we in the soil of the world, but we have been transplanted. Those who place their faith in Christ as Lord and Master live their lives for Him. Being rooted and built up in Him means that faith is continually strengthened as we learn and grow. Being transplanted from the world into Him is made evident by our thankful spirit.
The Lord has gone to enormous lengths to transplant me. He has sacrificed Himself and bought me at a great price (I Cor. 6:20). He has taken me out of the darkness and transplanted me in the light (Eph. 5:8). He has given me everything needed to live a godly life in Him (II Peter 1:3). I want my roots to go deeper and avoid the deceptive toxic soil of the world. In Him I am built up and my faith grows stronger, especially as I overflow with gratitude for all He has done for me!
Thank you Lord, for transplanting me in You!
(Look familiar? This post is based on one from 2017)