November 18 – A Strong Defense

“For you have been a stronghold to the poor, a stronghold to the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat; for the breath of the ruthless is like a storm against a wall,            like heat in a dry place.” Isaiah 25:4-5a (ESV)

This verse gives us four ways that God promised to provide for the needy in Isaiah’s day. The prophet Isaiah knew the wonder of God and what He did for His own who were in need. Number one, God is a stronghold (defense) to the poor or those without the means to have a defense.  Number two God is also a stronghold (defense) to those oppressed and in need of help. A stronghold was a place or means of safety and protection. A third is the shelter He provides when the storms of life come upon us. And when the heat is on God provides shade as the fourth way. He is ourrefuge and we can look to Him when we are threatened and wonder how things will work sort out for us. We trust Him for shelter when life is stormy. Sometimes we face people who have us up against a wall – we can trust and know God is with us to help us.  So, let’s allow the words of our verse to remind us today how full sufficient our God is to be there and meet our every need.

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November 17 – He is the Only One

“Many will see and fear and will trust in the Lord.  How blessed is the man who has made the Lord his trust, and has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood. Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders which You have done, and Your thoughts toward us; There is none to compare with You. If I would declare and speak of them, they would be too numerous to count.” – Psalm 40:4-5 (NASB)

Many promises can be found in our verses today. One which we may not often think of as a promise because it is a result of one action is “How blessed is…”  True followers of God remember times when God has shown how great He is and how He takes care of our needs. Notice the word ‘trust’ used as a verb (in the last line of v. 3) “And will trust in the Lord.” Then the word ‘trust’ as a noun; “who has made the LORD his trust,” The verb and noun forms connote a faith of commitment in the right object, God alone. As we read our Bibles we know that God has been demonstrating His greatness and His love to people for many centuries. When the psalmist David wrote the words we read in today’s verse He was thinking of what God had done already many centuries before. God has never ceased to show Himself in the same way and has done so all the time throughout the centuries. The promise we carry today is that no other person or entity can compare. Our God is the only true and living God.

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November 16 – Citizenship In God’s Family

“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,” – Ephesians 2:19 (ESV)

If ever one finds themselves in a place, a country or even city that they are not native to, it can be uncomfortable. Another word for ‘aliens’ is ‘sojourners’ – that is what Abraham and his clan were when they lived in Canaan. A sojourner was a transient with not property or permanent residence where they sojourn. God’s kingdom is made up of the people from all time who have trusted in Him. There are no strangers, foreigners, or second-class citizens there.  This verse reminds us of our identity as Christians. God wants us all to recognize the great change that He made in our status and identity. Our verse speaks of our former status as foreigners and aliens without standing in God’s family. But now we are citizens. God sent His Son into this world to make this change possible. Although before we didn’t belong to God, He wanted us to be His. These are two descriptions of us in the verse. We are citizens together with God people, citizens with eternal rights to heaven. Even more, we belong to God’s household, members of His family. What a life affirming promise that is for us today.

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November 15 – His Good Work First Then Ours

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10 (NASB)

While we read and think on this verse let’s be sure to notice that the emphasis is on God and His plans for us. It’s not on what we do for God but on what He does for us. ‘Good works cannot produce salvation but are subsequent and resultant God-empowered fruits and evidences of it.’1 When the verse speaks of our being created by God it really means our being born again – our re-creation because of what Jesus did for us. It is God who makes that happen and makes us His child and give to us eternal life. That makes us the work of God – we are His workmanship. ‘Like his salvation, a believer’s sanctification and good works were ordained before time began.’2 God has a purpose in this and it is that we will do what He gives us to do. We will tend to the work He gives us. Good works in our lives comes after His work in our lives. And all this was prepared and planned in advance. It is God’s plan that comes together for our benefit.

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[1] [2] John F. MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible., (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), Eph 2:10.

November 14 – Abundance of Positive Matters

“May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.”  2 Peter 1:2 (ESV)

These words are a prayer of blessing written by the Apostle Peter in the second letter he wrote to believers.  What a great difference our lives become when we come to know God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. “This is a strengthened form of “knowledge” implying a larger, more thorough, and intimate knowledge. The Christian’s precious faith is built on knowing the truth about God (cf. v. 3). Christianity is not a mystical religion, but is based in objective, historical, revealed, rational truth from God and intended to be understood and believed. The deeper and wider that knowledge of the Lord, the more “grace and peace” are multiplied.1” When we accept Jesus as our Savior, God brings us into His family and begins to reveal himself to us.  He wants us to know Him and to keep learning more and more about Him. Our verse today tells us what happens when we learn to know our Lord better. We read that we receive grace and peace in abundance through knowing Him. It will be true as we learn to know Him better. What a benefit is promised to us here.

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[1] John F. MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible., (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), 2 Pe 1:2.

November 13 – Letting Joy Be Seen

“The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul;  The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.” – Psalm 19:7-8 (NASB)

One of the greatest blessings which God has given us are his words and thoughts in the Bible.  When David wrote this psalm he expressed his appreciation using selected words. This Psalm extols the Words God has given to us. Each of four parallel lines in today’s verses contains a word (a synonym) for God’s Word; each describes what His Word is; and each pronounces what it effectually accomplishes.  God has given us the Bible to reveal His thinking about how we should live.  This, of course is a manifestation of His perfect love for us.  So, when we read the Bible we are reminded of God’s love and His concern for us. That should resonate in the heart and mind of every faith believer. And when our hears are full of joy it shows in our eyes?  Our inner sense and well-being can be seen by other when they look at us. Yes, our eyes reveal our inner spirit as they glisten with joy and that is what David was expressing about his experience.  Let’s be sure to pay attention often to what God has revealed to us in His Word. 

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November 12 – Unending Song To Sing

“I will sing of the steadfast love of the LORD, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations. For I said, “Steadfast love will be built up forever; in the heavens you will establish your faithfulness.” Psalm 89:1-2 (ESV)

Today we look again at a psalm the people of Israel sang to express their feelings of devotion and thanksgiving to God. The Covenant God made with David is the focus of this Psalm. It is not attributed to David but to Ethan the Ezrahite who was a Levitical singer (1 Chronicles 6:42).  Ethan’s wholehearted belief that God is faithful was the basis for his appealing to the Lord in his dilemma. As we think of God’s love for us we too can be inspired to sing with real joy.  When we remember how faithful God has been to us, always keeping His promises we can be inspired to share that with others.  This is what and how the psalmists shared God’s faithfulness with their mouth.  This is how we too do so when we sing praises, spiritual songs, and hymns.  God’s love and His faithfulness are not just temporal but they are eternal and have always been and will always be. Those of us who believe and have received God’s gift of salvation know the  blessing of singing about it and the promise that we will continue singing the praises to God in heaven.

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November 11 – From Whom Comes Victory

“For by their own sword they did not possess the land, And their own arm did not save them, But Your right hand and Your arm and the light of Your presence, For You favored them.”  Psalm 44:3 (NASB)

It’s Veterans Day in the United States. On this day we honor those who have served in our armed forces. One of the ways that the Children of Israel preserved their history and it’s stories was in songs.  Psalm 44 is a song written for the purpose of remembering what God had done for them in securing the Promised Land and to offer up prayer and thanksgiving to God.  It was good for them to remember that God was the one giving them the victory.  Although God is Spirit this song says uses terms we can visualize. His right hand, His arm, and the light of His face, protects and providentially cares for us out of His love for us.  We can rejoice that God is the same today and Christians around the globe are God’s children and members of His family wherever we are.  He cares for us and watches over us just as He did for the people of Israel.  As we reflect we can remember the ways God has intervened in our lives and it is by His grace and power and wisdom that we make it through day by day.

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November 10 – Resting In Silence

“My soul, wait in silence for God only, For my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, My stronghold; I shall not be shaken.” – Psalm 62:5-6 (NASB)

There are times in our lives that our best option is to back away from our worries and take a respite, like a breather. The idea of waiting in silence as we read in this verse is very close to the idea of resting.  God created us humans and gave us a physical body that needs rest for recuperation from the work we do.  God also gave us a soul which also requires rest and we get that rest by waiting for God in silence.  When we wait we can hear and learn to believe in God’s promises.  That’s what gives us hope and that hope comes from God.  Our word ‘hope’ means a way to wish. We want but don’t know if we will get it and perhaps will be disappointed.  But God created us to have hope that comes from Him and never disappoints us.  Our hope grows and gets stronger as we wait in silence.  As we wait in silence, we think about and meditate on what God has promised.  He promises hope from his unchangeable character and lovingkindness.  Today let’s do it; let’s wait only for God and for Him alone.

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November 9 – Our Promised Eternal Inheritance

Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.”  Hebrews 9:15 (ESV).

The practice of offering a sacrifice to cover for our sins is not an obligation for those adopted by God. Through our faith in Jesus, God’s wonderful provision was made once by Jesus and is for all who belong to His family.  Our Bible verse today reminds us of this provision. God has also  promised that Jesus will be our go between, our arbitrator before God. Jesus is our perfect mediator. There’s also a promised inheritance for us who belong to His family. Normally inheritances are planned in advance and there is a document to specify what it will be.  Well, that is the case with the promise we are considering here. This inheritance, is our salvation in its fullness, nothing lacking. God’s promise is the ‘document’ which seals forever our eternal inheritance.  It will never run out, never decay, and never be taken away from us.  It is an inheritance more precious than we are able to imagine.  Friends, if you have believed in Jesus, you are God’s child.  You are free from any condemnation and He is preparing to bring you to heaven where you will forever enjoy what our verse tells us about. 

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