What Would You Do?

Consider the Poor

Psalm 41:1   Blessed is the one who considers the poor!

It was a very hot South Dakota Sunday. My wife and I with our three small children were on our way home from church when I noticed a car pulled over under an overpass on the Interstate. I clearly heard the nudging of the Holy Spirit to stop.

As I pulled up behind the mid-sized sedan, the doors were open and legs were hanging out of the sides of the car. Multiple sets of legs. As I approached, the driver, obviously the father of a large family, rose to greet me. His wife was holding a toddler in the front seat, with another child sitting beside her. Four more children were in the back seat.

I asked the man what was wrong. He said they had no air conditioning in the car and that they were almost out of gas. He had stopped in the shade of the overpass to keep his family as cool as possible while they waited for help. In the days before cell phones, he had no way of asking for help other than to wait for someone to stop. I had been assigned by the Lord to be his help.

I told him to wait there while I drove the rest of the way into the city to the nearest phone. I called the sheriff, knowing that they had a policy in our county of providing gas assistance to stranded motorists. I called the Salvation Army, because I knew they would provide an overnight stay in a local motel. I got everything done to get them out of the heat and get them the rest they needed.

When I returned home, my heart was burdened for them. I asked my wife if there was anything more we could do for them. She agreed there was. We could go beyond the minimum level of help and show them the extent of God’s love. So we took the last $32 that we had and I headed over to the motel.

As I spoke to the family, I told them about the love of Jesus, and that this gift was for them to be able to get food for the family as they continued their trip. (Remember, this is in  there was enough money there to feed the whole family two-and-a-half times at McDonald’s.) There were so grateful. The next day they left and even though I had given them my phone number so they could let me know they arrived safely, we never heard from them again.

Now for some back story that connects to this event. Two weeks earlier I had heard by phone from a former church-goer who had moved to Kansas. He wanted me to send him the cassette tapes of all the messages he missed since he moved. I packaged them all up and shipped them off. Two days after giving our last $32 to a needy family, I received a letter from Kansas thanking me for the shipment of tapes. Enclosed was a check. I had never asked him to pay for the cassettes or the shipping. The check was for $32.00.

Psalm 41:1-2   Blessed is the one who considers the poor!

 In the day of trouble the Lord delivers Him.

The Lord protects him and keeps him alive.

He is called blessed in the land.

Examine the Evidence

We Are Evidence

Psalm 40:1-3  I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry.  He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.  He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD.

Yesterday as I mowed my lawn, I noticed that one of my bird feeders was not where it belongs. The rope from which it hangs had been pulled up into the tree and wrapped around a branch, and the block of suet inside had been chewed on. Based on all the evidence I knew exactly what had had happened…RACOON.

As I began reading in the fortieth Psalm this morning, it became clear to me that my life leaves traces of evidence by which others are forming opinions of me. Some of the evidence leads them to describe me one way, while other evidence may inspire different descriptions. Whether I agree with other people’s assessment or not is irrelevant. The real issue is that the evidence speaks for itself.

As King David writes this Psalm, it appears to me that his desire is for his life to be the kind of evidence that causes people to acknowledge the reality of God and then turn to Him for salvation. He says, Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD.”

With that shared desire in my heart I looked carefully at what evidence I need to have that would bring about that result.

  • I must wait patiently for the Lord. Waiting in the midst of suffering is difficult to say the least. We want solutions…NOW! Patience is the first piece of evidence that we leave behind that reveals a heart of hope rather than hurt, and it will cause people to take notice.
  • I must pray believing that God actually inclines to me and hears me. I love this word picture – God, who is sitting on the throne, hears me speak, and to make sure I know He’s listening, He leans in towards me. He doesn’t need to lean towards me to hear, but He does it so I know He’s listening. The second piece of evidence my life should be leaving behind is that people see me intimately communicating with God.
  • I must allow God to lift me up out of my pit and set me on the Rock. I noticed that it does not say that God removed the pit or the miry bog, but rather He lifts me out of it and makes my steps secure. The mess still exists all around me, and if I wanted to I could jump back into it. But the evidence of God’s reality that I leave behind is this…I choose to stand on the Rock of Jesus Christ no matter what kind of pits and quicksand may try to trap me.
  • I must change my attitude. I have a choice. I can say I am standing on the Rock while all the while talk about what it’s like to be in the pit, as if I were still there; or I can speak of the One who brought me out of it and rejoice that I’m no longer there. When it comes to attitude, I think Chuck Swindoll said it best:






Four evidences of the reality of God in our lives.

Four evidences that we really do trust God.

It is the evidence that the people of the world should be able to see in all of us who follow Jesus.

And when they see it, they will put their trust in the LORD.

It’s Another Day

he Whole Duty of Man

Psalms 39:4-6  “O LORD, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!  Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Surely a man goes about as a shadow! Surely for nothing they are in turmoil; man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather!

It’s another day.

The fascinating thing about the written word is that it is extremely difficult to express emotion in it. Words can produce an emotional response, but unlike the spoken word that has inflection, facial expressions, and gestures attached, we are on our own for how we interpret words that are written down. That’s what makes electronic communication so dangerous, as we all have probably experienced.

It appears to me that as you read the opening line of this devotional, you chose to attach an emotion to it. You may have been completely bummed out by yesterday, so you read the words “It’s another day” with dread as you anticipate more of the same.

You may have had a great day yesterday, so you read those three words with enthusiasm.

You may be recovering from a bad day and have read those words with hope.

You may have very little hope so you read those words with a “same old, same old” philosophy of life.

All I said was, “It’s another day.” Any emotion you experienced as a result of reading those words was your choice, and is probably the result of your current perspective on life.

Some people view life as a necessary evil that we must endure. Some may view this life as all that there is, so they seek to experience everything it has to offer. Others may view life as a preparation for eternity. How we choose to view life determines the emotional attachments we express to even simple phrases like “it’s another day.”

To help with that issue, go back and read today’s Scripture passage again. I’ll wait……..(insert Final Jeopardy theme music)

Do you see it? We need to adopt God’s perspective on this life – it’s too short to waste on anything meaningless.

  • How much of the turmoil we are experiencing is of our own making because we are pursuing what is not permanent?
  • How many of the possessions we have accumulated have brought us any sense of deep inner joy and contentment?
  • What successes have truly satisfied our need for validation?
  • What investments of time, energy, or resources have paid any kind of lasting dividends?
  • Will today be another day of turmoil because we are striving after that which only God can provide?

This might be a great time to start reading about Solomon’s pursuit of the meaningless in Ecclesiastes. But in case you don’t have time because of all the other pursuits that occupy your time, let me take you to the end of the book where the wise King draws his conclusion.

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14  The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.  For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.

Don’t waste your life on what is meaningless.

Choose not to suffer from the self-inflicted disease of turmoilitis.

Choose to live this day, and every day, according to God’s design and purpose.

It is the whole duty of man.

Pastor John

Let It Out

Psalms 39:1–2  I said, “I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth as long as the wicked are in my presence.” But when I was silent and still, not even saying anything good, my anguish increased.

Who do you have that you can really talk to? Do you have someone in your life with whom you can share the innermost thoughts of your heart? Or are you the type of person that buries your thoughts and emotions?

Research is showing more and more that those who keep silent and bury their feelings suffer more health issues and heal less quickly than those who talk about their troubles. According to a story on The Cancer Blog, “stuffing your emotions, or keeping it all inside, has led more than one person down the path to trouble. At some point, if you do not express your thoughts and feelings, especially the negative ones, you stay emotionally frozen in time. It’s kind of like physically clubbing yourself over the head repeatedly day after day.”

Adelaide University psycho-neuro-immunology researcher Vikki Knott understands the benefit of letting it all out emotionally, and that sharing and releasing distressful emotions can help a cancer survivor survive cancer longer. Previous research has already proven that breast cancer survivors who belong to a support group tend to live longer than their more isolated and disconnected counterparts.

In her book “What’s Worth Knowing” Wendy Lustbader went to a retirement home to find out what elderly people had learned during their many years of life. 91-year old Ethel Huntington said she learned the hard way not to hide within herself.

“I didn’t tell anyone, (my secret). It’s done me damage though, keeping it all inside I never got close to anyone when I could have. I was afraid people could see right into me so I always kept a certain distance. I ended up building my life around my secret, without realizing it. Now I see it. If you hide part of yourself, no one ever really knows you. You pay a high price if you let shame fence you in.”

King David tried that. His motive appears good – he didn’t want to sin and give the wicked people around him more ammunition with which to attack his life and his God. But his initial silence about his frustrations, fears, and foes eventually caused him to stop saying anything good as well. He became emotionally frozen in time, and his anguish increased. He found release and relief only after he began to share his heart out loud. After completely becoming transparent with his feelings, David says to God, “But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.”

Through the expression of his emotions he was taken from the hopelessness of wanting his days to come to an end to the hope of God’s deliverance.

What have you been hiding? What emotions have you buried because you are afraid of how you will look to others if you express them? It would be wise for you to find someone to talk to. It would be wise for you to start by talking honestly with God. He knows your thoughts already, so why not find the emotional healing you long for by confessing them to him. He will restore your hope.

Pastor John