Monday, January 30, 2012

Loving our Guilty Ways

But God will smash the heads of his enemies, crushing the skulls of those who love their guilty ways. The Lord says, “I will bring my enemies down from Bashan; I will bring them up from the depths of the sea. You, my people will wash your feet in their blood, and even your dogs will get their share!” Psalm 68: 21-23 NLT

Bloody, vengeful and insulting. That is today's reading.

God's enemies may have gone up the highest mountains or even drowned in the farthermost seas but they still remain in God's reach. In fact, this God is pretty bloody and vengeful. Smashing the enemies heads and crushing the skulls of those who love their guilty ways. Forget the threats of hell, this is worse! Then, the righteous will wash their feet in the blood of the enemies. This is insulting. Even the dogs will take part in this! This is beyond insulting.

God is pretty angry, don't you think?

How much do you love your guilty ways? You probably loved them more before reading this devotional today. And I don't think God is going to come mash your head in and pour your blood on the streets to be trampled by dogs. I think that was the psalmist's own desire. But I do think God becomes very disappointed in us when we love the things that tempt us, that lead us to sin. This is a time in our day for us to take an honest look at what we really love in our lives and admit to ourselves and to God when we are in love with our guilty ways.

God, forgive me for loving the things you hate. Forgive me for continuing to do those things you don't want me to do...and enjoying them in the process. Forgive me for allowing sin to reign over my life when you so desperately want to be my only sovereign. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2012 Amelia G. Sims

Sunday, January 29, 2012

God is Holding You

Praise the Lord; praise God our savior! For each day he carries us in his arms. Our God is a God who saves! The Sovereign Lord rescues us from death. Psalm 68: 19-20 NLT

For each day, God carries us in his arms.

Is that not a comforting thought? Today (or tomorrow if you are reading this devotional at night) keep those words in your head. Maybe write them down or make them your social website status:

God is carrying me in his arms today.

Meditate on this; think about this as you are driving to work, washing dishes, texting your friends, working in the yard, even watching television.

God, I praise you, my Lord and my savior! Each day you carry me in your arms and today is no exception. Do I not get heavy at times? Don't you wish to put me down? Am I struggling even while you give me love and support? I am so blessed and thankful for your saving love and grace. In Jesus' precious name I pray. Amen.

Copyright 2012 Amelia G. Sims

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Becoming Jealous

The mountains of Bashan are majestic, with many peaks stretching high into the sky. Why do you look with envy, O rugged mountains, at Mount Zion, where God has chose to live, where the Lord himself will live forever? Surrounded by unnumbered thousands of chariots, the Lord came from Mount Sinai into his sanctuary. When you ascended to the heights, you led a crowd of captives. You received gifts from people, even from those who rebelled against you. Now the Lord God will live among us there. Psalm 68: 15-18 NLT

These verses address the majestic mountains of Bashan. Although they are massive, they are still jealous of Mount Zion, a single mountain that is not all that high. This is because God has chosen to live there. God came from Mount Sinai with an endless army and entered his dwelling place on Mount Zion. God led those who were captured and now were to be slaves. Gifts were given to God from those who had fought against him. God has been victorious and little Mount Zion is the winner.

Obviously, there has been a battle against a much superior foe. The people of God have been victorious and the tributes and captives have arrived in Jerusalem. God is among the people there rather than in the mountains of Bashan. This is actually the area we now know as the Golan Heights, the mountain range north of the Sea of Galilee. Although it is a beautiful place, God has not chose to dwell there.

Has God chosen to dwell with you?

What will others see in your life to make them jealous of God's presence in your life?

Copyright 2012 Amelia G. Sims

Friday, January 27, 2012

Taking Care of God's Enemies

The Lord gives the word, and a great army brings the good news. Enemy kings and their armies flee, while the women of Israel divide the plunder. Even those who lived among the sheepfolds found treasures – doves with wings of silver and feathers of gold. The Almighty scattered the enemy kings like a blowing snowstorm on Mount Zalmon. Psalm 68: 11-14 NLT

God took care of the enemy so thoroughly that even the poorest among God's people got a share of their enemies' valuable idols.

Who would you consider to be your enemy? A co-worker or even your boss? A family member? Someone in a government office? Your ex? The father of lies?

What would it look like if God “took care of” your enemy for you? Would they be scattered like a blowing snowstorm? Would they flee from your life, leaving you holding their most precious belongings? How would God announce this to you?

Until then, how will you live each day in the presence of your enemy? What will God do to give you courage and fortitude in the face of those who are out to get you?

God, save us from our enemies. Help us to feast even in their presence, knowing you are with us always. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2012 Amelia G. Sims

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Refresh us, Lord

O God, when you led your people out from Egypt, when you marched through the dry wasteland, the earth trembled and the heavens poured down rain before you, God of Sinai, before God, the God of Israel. You sent abundant rain, O God, to refresh the weary land. There your people finally settled, and with a bountiful harvest, O God, you provided for your needy people. Psalm 68: 7-10 NLT

As I write this, I am in the middle of a storm. My dog is so scared that she is under my desk. While the thunder booms, the rain is pouring onto the roof and violently hitting the windows. So, when I hear about the earth trembling and the heavens pouring down rain before God in order to refresh the weary land, I can really relate.

But in the psalm, the Lord does this in order to provide for people who are needy. These are the people who have been wandering in the desert for years. These nomads need a home and plenty to eat. And the Lord provides what they need.

I think that is the key in this psalm. It is not up to us, but up to God. We can only do so much. God takes care of the rest and is our true provider. Next time you are in a thunderstorm, think of how God has poured out his mercy and grace on your own life.

God, we give you thanks and praise for your generous love and grace pouring down upon our lives. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2012 Amelia G. Sims

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Father to the Fatherless

Father to the fatherless, defender of the widow--- this is God, whose dwelling is holy. God places the lonely in families; he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy. But he makes the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land. Psalm 68: 5-6 NLT

What kind of family are you a part of? Is your immediate family a strong one? Or would you consider yourself part of a dysfunctional family? Does getting together with them over the holidays fill you with joy or dread? Do you consider yourself orphaned or single? Are you lonely? Are you under some kind of bondage or addiction or even in real-life prison?

God wants each one of us to belong. He does this be creating a new family for us. God becomes the father to those who do not have a father or even a parent. God becomes the life partner for those who are single. God finds the family for those who are lonely. God takes those who are under some kind of bondage and frees them, giving them joy.

God, help me to find the joy, the companionship and the family that you promise to us. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2012 Amelia G. Sims

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

His name is the Lord!

Rise up, O God, and scatter your enemies. Let those who hate God run for their lives. Blow them away like smoke. Melt them like wax in fire. Let the wicked perish in the presence of God. But let the godly rejoice. Let them be glad in God's presence. Let them be filled with joy. Sing praises to God and to his name! Sing loud praises to him who rides the clouds. His name is the Lord – rejoice in his presence! Psalm 68: 1-4 NLT

Psalm 68 is a pretty bloody psalm. It begins by asking God to get ride of all God's enemies in a most horrific way. It asks that God rise up and scatter all who hate God, making them run for their lives. But they won't be able to run. God will kill them by blowing them away like smoke and/or melting them like wax in fire. They will all die in the presence of God.

When this happens, everyone who is godly (and who is left) will rejoice. Probably because they were not incinerated! Seriously, the psalm says they will be glad in God's presence rather than dead. They will be filled with joy and sing to God.

You have got to be pretty angry to ask God to make this happen. You have to be incredibly confident in your own belief and relationship with God to want this. In fact, I think you would have to be down trodden and oppressed for this scenario to make you happy.

Maybe you are there right now. Maybe you have been there in the past. And you may possibly be there in the future. The destruction of God's enemies (and ours) aside, we all can pray for joy in God's presence.

God, no matter what, may I experience true joy in your presence. May I always be able to praise you when in worship and prayer. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2012 Amelia G. Sims

Monday, January 23, 2012

What is stopping you?

May the nations praise you, O God. Yes, may all the nations praise you. Then the earth will yield its harvests, and God, our God, will richly bless us. Yes, God will bless us, and people all over the world will fear him. Psalm 67: 5-7 NLT

The picture we receive from the psalmist comes in four parts.

  1. All the nations praise God. We know from yesterday's devotional that we are the instruments to help people know about God so that this will come about.
  1. Then the earth will yield its harvests. Has the earth been holding back? Are we talking about the plentiful bounty that is pictured in the garden of Eden? Have our worldy harvests just been a tip of the iceberg in terms of what the earth is capable of producing?

  2. Then God will richly bless us. The bounty of the earth is not part of God's blessing. What for you would be God's blessing? Restored relationships? Harmony among peoples? World peace?

  3. Then, people all over the world will fear God. I think this is more than trembling in one's boots. I think this is a mark of respect, awe and reverence. People all over the world will finally get it, will finally get God.
What is stopping you from helping to make the first step happen?

God, we want alll the nations to praise you. What must I do to make that come true? In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2012 Amelia G. Sims

Sunday, January 22, 2012

May God's Ways be Known on Earth

May your ways be known throughout the earth, your saving power among people everywhere. May the nations praise you, O God. Yes, may all the nations praise you. Let the whole world sing for joy, because you govern the nations with justice and guide the people of the whole world. Psalm 67: 2-4 NLT

So, how is this going to happen? Will God televise a live broadcast or place something on the internet so that everyone on earth with know God? Will people simply know suddenly, psychically, that God exits? Will everyone just start praising God, sort of like a world-wide flash mob?

No. We are the ones who are to spread the news about God's ways. We are the hands and feet that must show everyone God's saving power. God is depending on us to carry out Jesus' commandment. That doesn't mean that God won't be with us. God will fill us with the Holy Spirit to complete the task.

And what carries us from day to day is this promise: the picture of all nations praising God and all people singing for joy. The real time experience of God's saving justice and guidance will lead to a spontaneous praising of God. It may seem impossible but with God all things are possible.

God, keep us focused on our task. Help us not to get side-tracked by everyday life. May we see the vision of the whole world praising you come to life. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2012 Amelia G. Sims

Saturday, January 21, 2012

May God be merciful and bless us.

May God be merciful and bless us. May his face shine with favor on us. Psalm 67: 1 NLT

A simple verse, a simple prayer. Yet, powerful and complex in its scope and desire.

May God be merciful. God's mercy is something we all should be asking for as we are sinful creatures. Even when we think we are right with God, we often harbor disobedient thoughts in our hearts. Asking for God to be merciful certainly covers a lot of mistakes!

May God bless us. God's blessing is more than just asking for provisions or rescue. If you receive God's blessing, you receive more than you could imagine.

May God's face shine with favor upon us. This is another way of asking for God's blessing. If God's face is shining upon you, God is paying attention to you and shedding his light on you. God is looking at you and directing his countenance upon you. To be in God's light and attention is more than a mere answering of our petitions; it is being in the light of perfection.

A simple verse, a simple prayer. Let's pray this now.

May God be merciful and bless us. May his face shine with favor on us. In Christ's name. Amen.

Copyright 2012 Amelia G. Sims

Friday, January 20, 2012

How to ask for help

Come and listen, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what he did for me. For I cried out to him for help, praising him as a I spoke. If I had not confessed the sin in my hearts, the Lord would not have listened. But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer. Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw his unfailing love from me. Psalm 66: 16-20 NLT

The psalmist wants to tell what God has done for them. But he doesn't just tell a story.

First he admits that he asked for help. In fact, he cried out for help. But even as he cried out, he praised God. So, even this request was a praise.

Second, he confessed the sins he had on his heart. Not what he had done but what he was thinking about. He admitted his weaknesses to God.

Because of this, God listened to him, acted on his request and continued to love him.

Where do you need God's help in your life? Ask, praise and confess and God will hear your prayer.

God, I need your help with ____________________. I praise your Holy name and your marvelous glory! I freely admit these sins which are on my heart: ___________________________________. Forgive me, Lord, and hear my prayer. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Keeping your Promise

Now I come to your Temple with burnt offerings to fulfill the vows I made to you – yes, the sacred vows that I made when I was in deep trouble. That is why I am sacrificing burnt offerings to you – the best of my rams as a pleasing aroma, and a sacrifice of bulls and male goats. Psalm 66: 13-15 NLT

Have you ever made a vow to God? That is, have you ever promised God that you would do something for God in exchange for something else? Maybe if you received a certain grade in school, got a coveted promotion at work, were healed of a sickness or even lived through a near-death experience you would give your life over to God or always obey God's will. Did you get what you asked for? How have you held up on your part of the bargain?

The psalmist has made a vow. We don't know what it was but we do know that he was “in deep trouble.” Coming to the temple and offering these sacrifices probably did cost the psalmist some money as well as time. Rams, bulls and goats were never cheap and it seems like they have all been offered at once. There must have been some serious trouble and some intent vows!

The important part is that the psalmist has kept his word. No matter the cost, he is willing to fulfill his part of the bargain. In fact, he is giving the best of his own animals to God for a “pleasing aroma.” This is a selfless gift given to God.

Vow or not, what selfless gifts do you owe to God?

God, may I fulfill my promises made to you. May I continue to do your will and follow your guidance in all that I do beginning this very day. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tested and purified

You have tested us, O God; you have purified us like silver. You capture us in your net and laid the burden of slavery on our backs. Then you put a leader over us. We went through fire and flood, but you brought us to a place of great abundance. Psalm 66: 10-12 NLT

Psalm 66 both blames God for suffering yet gives God credit for the outcome.

I have been studying the book of James lately and have come to the understanding that God does not make us suffer in order to produce results. We suffer and God provides the opportunity to be molded in a different fashion by the end of what we are going through. We should see troubles as an opportunity to grow in our faith and endurance. This is what will produce full maturity in us.

Certainly there are times when God does not save us from suffering. In those times it is by God's help that we can come through better people. We go through fire and flood but God brings us to a place of great abundance. God never leaves us alone (God provides a leader) and God never forgets us.

God, you are always with me, even when I go through times of trouble and suffering. Help me to hang on to you and to endure so that I will be perfect in every way. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Come and see what God has Done!

Come and see what what our God has done, what awesome miracles he performs for people! He made a dry path through the Red Sea, and his people went across on foot. There we rejoiced in him. For by his great power he rules forever. He watches every movement of the nations; let no rebel rise in defiance. Let the whole world bless our God and loudly sing his praises. Our lives are in his hands, and he keeps our feet from stumbling. Psalm 66: 5-9 NLT

If you were to invite folks over to your home to see and hear what God has done in your life, what would you tell them?

What miracles has God performed in your life? What miracles have you seen in the lives of those around you?

Has what God has done in your life been echoed by anything you have seen done around the world?

Do you see evidence that God watches the nations and blesses all people?

Even though God has done wondrous things in your life, have there been times that you have rebelled?
What sorts of things did you do or say? How did you come back to sing God's praises?

In what ways could God keep your feet from stumbling this week?

God, our lives are in your hands and you keep our feet from stumbling. We rejoice in you. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Monday, January 16, 2012

Giving thanks

Shout joyful praises to God, all the earth! Sing about the glory of his name! Tell the world how glorious he is. Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! Your enemies cringe before your mighty power. Everything on earth will worship you; they will sing your praises, shouting your name in glorious songs.” Psalm 66: 1-4 NLT

I was at a Christian women's lunch yesterday and we were all asked to lift up what we were thankful for to God. Yet, the first person who opened their mouth had a prayer request. Why are we so quick to lift up others in prayer yet so slow in giving thanks?

This psalm is all about giving God praise, glory and thanks. It is a litany of what great things God has done as well as what God is more than capable of doing: “your enemies cringe,” “everything on earth will worship you.” It is a word of hope and future glory. Not everything has happened yet but the prayer is that God is going to do these things and how glorious it will be!

For what in your life can you give thanks today? What great things can you imagine God doing in the world around you – even if those seem realistically impossible? Let's give God thanks and praise!

God, we shout our joyful praises to you! We sing of the glory of your name. We tell the world how glorious you are. How awesome are your deeds! You have defeated death and conquered sin. You will do great and mighty things now and in the future. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Thanks for Rain

You take care of the earth and water it, making it rich and fertile. The river of God has plenty of water; it provides a bountiful harvest of grain, for you have ordered it so. You drench the plowed ground with rain, melting the clods and leveling the ridges. You soften the earth with showers and bless its abundant crops. You crown the year with bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance. The grasslands of the wilderness become a lush pasture, and the hillsides blossom with joy. The meadows are clothed with flocks of sheep, and the valleys are carpeted with grain. They all shout and sing for joy! Psalm 65: 9-13 NLT

As a person who lives where it seems to rain a lot, I find myself lacking in appreciation for these verses.

However, in the Holy Land, water has historically been scarce. Today, modern forms of irrigation have made the country of Israel more fertile as well as created some problems (like the shrinking of the Dead Sea). In biblical times, a bountiful harvest depended on the rains. It is no wonder this psalm is practically a poem of praise in honor of the God who has provided all the water.

Take a moment and re-read today's scripture. Then spend some time thinking about what “rains” you depend on in your life – yet often find to be scarce. When God provides a bounty of those waters, what kinds of growth and harvest do you see?

God, thank you for providing the rain and rich soil in our lives. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Saturday, January 14, 2012

For the Beauty of the Earth

You formed the mountains by your power and armed yourself with mighty strength.You quieted the raging oceans with their pounding waves and silenced the shouting of the nations. Those who live at the ends of the earth stand in awe of your wonders. From where the sun rises to where it sets, you inspire shouts of joy. Psalm 65: 6-8 NLT

I receive a lot of spam email. Sometimes it is sent by well- meaning friends. It gets to be too much at times. But I have one friend who often sends me pictures and I always read her emails. I love to see scenes from all over the world, especially scenes of nature taken by professional photographers. When I hear the words “those who live at the ends of the earth stand in awe of your wonders” I think of some of those awesome pictures I have received.

When have you stopped lately and simply enjoyed a wonderful sunset? How about the fog over the still water? A beautiful bird perched on a branch? A newborn baby? You and I need to spend more time in awe of God's wonders.

God, you formed the mountains by your power and armed yourself with mighty strength.You quieted the raging oceans with their pounding waves and silenced the shouting of the nations. Those who live at the ends of the earth stand in awe of your wonders. From where the sun rises to where it sets, you inspire shouts of joy. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Friday, January 13, 2012

Forgive us our sins

What mighty praise, O God, belongs to you in Zion. We will fulfill our vows to you, for you answer our prayers. All of us must come to you. Though we are overwhelmed by our sins, you forgive them all. What joy for those you choose to bring near, those who live in your holy courts. What festivities await us inside your holy Temple. You faithfully answer our prayers with awesome deeds, O God our savior. You are the hope of everyone on earth, even those who sail on distant seas. Psalm 65: 1-5 NLT

All of us must come to you...if we want our sins forgiven.

Being forgiven of our sins does take action on our part. God wants to forgive us but we must come to God.

The understanding of the Hebrews was that God was only in one place: in the Holy Temple. So, you physically had to go to God and offer particular sacrifices to be forgiven. There was no falling on your knees and giving a humble and contrite apology (although that would be okay, too). You had to travel to Jerusalem, go to the Temple, present your sacrifice and let the priest do the work. Interesting that the psalm talks about how God is everyone's hope, even those who are physically the furthermost from God – those out on the high seas.

You and I can be on the distant seas, in Jerusalem or anywhere and ask for God's forgiveness. Jesus has already given the ultimate sacrifice. All we have to do is go to God in prayer.

Why don't we do this right now?

God, forgive me for my sins, for they are many. Some I know, others I do not know. Forgive me for each and every one. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Rejoice in the Lord

The godly will rejoice in the Lord and find shelter in him. And those who do what is right will praise him. Psalm 64:10 NLT

This verse has two sentences but they are not two separate thoughts. There is not a group of godly people and another group who do what is right. The godly do what is right! This verse is trying to express what the followers of God do: followers of God give God the glory and find stay in God's protection. Rejoicing in God and praising God are simply two ways to say the same thing.

This makes me wonder if godly people automatically give God praise or if giving God praise makes you a godly person. It also follows that God wants us to praise him so if we are doing what is right, we will be giving God the glory. Do only the godly find shelter in God? Do those who seek shelter in God become godly?

I have no answers beyond saying that I want to be a godly person, doing what is right.

God, we rejoice and find shelter in you. We do what is right and give you praise. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Sticks and Stones

O God, listen to my complaint. Do not let my enemies' threats overwhelm me. Protect me from the plots of the wicked, from the scheming of those who do evil. Sharp tongues are the swords they wield, bitter words are the arrows they aim. They shoot from ambush at the innocent, attacking suddenly and fearlessly. They encourage each other to do evil and plan how to set their traps. “Who will ever notice?” They ask. As they plot their crimes, they say, “We have devised the perfect plan!” Yes, the human heart and mind are cunning. But God himself will shoot them down. Suddenly, his arrows will pierce them. Their own words will be turned against them, destroying them. All who see it happening will shake their heads in scorn. Then everyone will stand in awe, proclaiming the mighty acts of God, realizing all the amazing things he does. Psalm 64:1-9 NLT

Their swords are their sharp tongues and their arrows are bitter words. Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me?

If only that were true!

How have other people hurt you with what they have said? I can focus on one negative complaint about me even in the midst of 20 compliments.

But I know that I am not alone. This is because I, too, have said things that hurt other people. One of the regrets of my life is what I said over the phone to my good friend when I was between college and the real world. She and her boyfriend had gone and gotten married (a simple ceremony with just close family). She then called my house to see if I would come over to help them celebrate. I had been doing something for my parents and had yet to take a shower. I gave some flimsy excuse and never heard from her again. I even tried years later and wrote a letter to apologize. I still never heard from her. As you can tell, this regret is still something I think about from time to time. I never meant to hurt her but my words were like swords and arrows.

When have you said something you later regretted? Have you been able to apologize or make up with that person? How can you avoid this in the future?

God, help me to stop saying things that hurt others. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Are you a liar?

But the king will rejoice in God. All who trust in him will praise him, while liars will be silenced. Psalm 63: 11 NLT

If you trust in God, you will be able to use your voice in praising God. If you say you trust God but don't really, you will be silenced. Perhaps it will be a final silence or maybe a temporary one. The point is to rejoice in God not just say you rejoice in God.

Sometimes I know I haven't been as close to God as I should. Sometimes I can talk the talk but find my walking to be a bit shaky. It is easy for me to express myself in words. Actions are harder. I don't think I could be considered a liar but I sometimes come awfully close.

How honest are you with your own relationship with God right now? Are you doing as well with God as you claim? Or would someone – like God – call you a liar? Are you in danger of being silenced.
God, we don't want to be liars but followers. We don't want to be silenced but rejoice. Help us, please. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Monday, January 9, 2012

Following Closely

I follow close behind you; your strong right hand holds me securely. But those plotting to destroy me will come to ruin. They will go down to the depths of the earth. They will die by the sword and become the food of jackals. Psalm 63: 8-10 NLT

For some reason these verses remind me of battle scenes in a movie. The hero is closely following someone else who can protect them while all around are shots and explosions. It doesn't look like either the hero or the person they are following are going to make it but somehow they do, even when the bad guys on their tail are killed.

Have you ever thought that following God is like that? You are in a great chase scene and your only hope is to follow so closely behind God that God's right hand is holding you securely. Those who are trying to get you will be destroyed. You will be safe, however.

Are you following closely enough behind God to be holding God's right hand?

God, help me to follow you so closely that your right hand will always keep me secure. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Lying Awake at Night

I lie awake thinking of you, meditating on you through the night. I think how much you have helped me, I sing for joy in the shadow of your protecting wings. Psalm 63: 6-7 NLT

I know of at least a handful of people who wake up in the middle of every night. Some of them go back to sleep after a time and others simply get on up. I know one person who spends that time in prayer. Another completes tasks begun during the day. In each case, they are always wondering why they cannot sleep a full night's sleep.

I wake up on occasion and can't go back to sleep. If I realize that I really can't just fall back to sleep, I try to pray. I ask God to reveal to me whomever God wants me to be in prayer for. Sometimes I pray for those who wake up every night! At other times, God places people on my heart. Usually, I am able to go back to sleep after that. The psalmist lies awake at night, too. But the psalmist spends the time in praise. The psalmist remembers all the ways God has helped him and how God continues to protect him. The loss of sleep does not matter because the psalmist remains in the shadow of God's protective wings. This midnight prayer seems to be part of being God's follower rather than an exception to the rule.

Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night? Have you tried doing as the psalmist did?

God, I sing for joy for all the ways you have helped me – whether in the middle of the day or in the watches of the night. Thank you for continuing to be with me 24/7. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Gazing on God

I have seen you in your sanctuary and gazed upon your power and glory. Your unfailing love is better to me than life itself; how I praise you! I will honor you as long as I live, lifting up my hands to you in prayer. You satisfy me more than the richest of foods. I will praise you with songs of joy. Psalm 63: 2-5 NLT

What do you do when you go to worship? Resent the time away from the golf course? Think about what you will have for lunch? Compare what you are wearing with others in the congregation?

The psalmist comes to worship to gaze on God's power and glory. The psalmist meditates on how God's love is better than life itself. The psalmist praises God, honoring God by lifting up his hands to God in prayer. The psalmist realizes that being in God's presence is better than a good meal, a good game or the finest clothes. Being in worship is more satisfying to the psalmist than any other thing life offers. So, the psalmist continues to praise God with joyful songs.

Next time you step into worship think of these things: God's power and glory, how God's love is better than life itself, how being near God is more satisfying that anything else you could be doing at that moment. Then lift up your hands in praise, joyfully giving God the glory. I think you will find it will be the best worship service ever.

God, I have seen you in your sanctuary and gazed upon your power and glory. Your unfailing love is better to me than life itself; how I praise you! I will honor you as long as I live, lifting up my hands to you in prayer. You satisfy me more than the richest of foods. I will praise you with songs of joy. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Friday, January 6, 2012

Longing for God

O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water. Psalm 63: 1 NLT

How hard are you looking for God? Are you earnestly searching? Are you thirsty enough that if you don't have God you will die? Does your entire body yearn for the living God? Do you feel like you are in a desert where only God can provide the water and cool shade you need?

If you are not feeling this passion for finding God, you probably are going to end up with something else. Maybe a warm and fuzzy feeling or a buddy or group to hang out with is what you will have. You might be a member of a church or other community of faith.

But you are not going to find God.

The thing is that God earnestly searches for us. God yearns for you. God wants you so badly but you keep turning to other things. Let's pray that we can yearn for God almost as much as God years for us.

God, you search diligently for me and want me to be in a deep and lasting relationship with you. Help me to have the same kind of desire for you as well. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Thursday, January 5, 2012

God has spoken plainly

God has spoken plainly, and I have heard it many times: power, O God, belongs to you; unfailing love, O Lord is yours. Surely you judge all people according to what they have done. Psalm 62: 11-12 NLT

Power belongs to God.

Yet, how often to we depend on political figures to weld the right kind of power? How often are we totally dependent on our military to protect us? How often do we put our faith in the stock market to keep us from floundering?

Unfailing love belongs to God.

Yet, we spend much of our lives looking for the right kind of love. First, we look to our parents but eventually find them too human and lacking in the amount of love we need. Then, we search for a friend or friends to fill that gap but they are doing the same and often betray us. We turn for that “soul-mate” who will compliment us in every way, especially by providing the love we need. But we come away with our hearts broken instead. Some of us look to our children to provide that love but they are not capable of this task.

True justice belongs to God.

Sure, we can sue, we can go to court, we can follow the latest case in the media. But there may be a loophole or a lawyer that leaves us wanting a different kind of justice. What court will really uphold the law we want implemented?

God has the ultimate power. God has the unfailing love for which we are searching. Only God can provide real justice – not just what we want to see happen.

Thank you, God, that you have the power, love and justice that we really need. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

What is central to your life?

From the greatest to the lowliest – all are nothing in his sight. If you weigh them on the scales, they are lighter than a puff of air. Don't try to get rich by extortion or robbery. And if your wealth increases, don't make it the center of your life. Psalm 62: 9-10 NLT

If your wealth increases, don't make it the center of your life.

Wow! What powerful advice, especially as we enter a new year. Will you receive an increase in salary or retirement this year? Perhaps your son or daughter is graduating from college and that means one less bill to pay – it will seem like an increase in your income! Maybe you have paid off a debt (good for you)! If you will receive more money this year, you should celebrate and thank God.

But don't make this increase in money the center of your life.

I know our family has done this in the past and may still be doing it. We have depended on a raise to pay our bills. And we structure our lives around it. We live dependent on the wealth we have rather than being dependent upon God.

That is what God desires from us. God does not want us to be dependent on our money (notice I did not say that God does not want us to take care of what we have been given). God wants us to be dependent on him. Our lives should be structured around God, not our relationship with God dependent on how we earn our income.

Now is the time to take a good look and see what is at the center of our lives: money or God?

God, we want you to be the center of our lives. So be it.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Pour Out Your Heart

I wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me. O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge. Psalm 61: 5-8 NLT

What is on your heart this day?

Have you told God all about it? Or are you afraid to bother God? Perhaps you feel like God is tired of hearing the same old things. Have you really unburdened your heart to God or are you still holding back, just giving what you think God wants to hear from you?

The psalmist tells us to pour out our hearts to God – that means give God everything. Empty your heart to God with all you have. Trust God. Make sure you hold nothing back! It is like taking a bottle of soda and emptying every last drop. Nothing should be left when you pour out your heart to the Lord!

Take some truly quiet time today to spend with God. Empty out all that is on your heart and in your mind to him. He wants your whole heart.


Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Monday, January 2, 2012

Lonely at the Top

So many enemies against one man – all of them trying to kill me. To them I'm just a broken-down wall or a tottering fence. They plan to topple me from my high position. They delight in telling lies about me. They are friendly to my face, but they curse me in their hearts. Psalm 61:3-4 NLT

The imagery in these two verses says it all:

So many enemies against one person.

I seem like a broken-down wall to them.

They see me as a tottering fence.

They plan on toppling me from my high position.

They like to tell lies about me.

They are friendly to my face but curse me in their hearts.

When I read these images, I have strong feelings of isolation and vulnerability. I see someone standing on the top of a pole or a ladder with people trying to grab their feet and make the fall – all while these people are looking friendly and innocent. I suppose we could say it is lonely at the top – and you are more susceptible to making enemies and being overcome.

I wonder what led to being on the top. Is it because the psalmist has followed God and God alone while others follow their own ambitions and agendas? Is the person in position of power been given that position by God? It certainly seems like the psalmist is the good guy while everyone else seems to be the enemy.

Have you ever felt like the psalmist? What happened to you?

God, it is lonely at the top. Help us to follow you wherever you lead us and for us to depend on you for everything. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims