Friday, August 31, 2012

Renewed Each Day

The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at the place of honor at my right hand until I humble your enemies, making them a footstool under your feet.” The Lord will extend your powerful kingdom from Jerusalem; you will rule over your enemies. When you go to war, your people will serve you willingly. You are arrayed in holy garments, and your strength will be renewed each day like the morning dew. The Lord has taken an oath and will not break his vow: “You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.” The Lord stands at your right hand to protect you. He will strike down many kings when his anger erupts. He will punish the nations and fill their lands with corpses; he will shatter heads over the whole earth. But he himself will be refreshed from brooks along the way. He will be victorious. Psalm 110 NLT

There is much in Psalm 110 that I feel does not apply to me. However, the words “your strength will be renewed each day like the morning dew” really resonates with me. How many mornings do I wake up wanting more sleep, feeling exhausted rather than refreshed, and dreading the day? 

Perhaps you are better at awakening with a brighter spirit. Either way, I think all of us would like to be refreshed each new day. Shall we make that our prayer for tomorrow and each day afterwards?

God, renew my strength each day like the morning dew. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Copyright Amelia G. Sims 2012

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Thanks and praise

May my accusers be clothed with disgrace; may their humiliation cover them like a cloak. But I will give repeated thanks to the Lord, praising him to everyone. For he stands beside the needy, ready to save them from those who condemn them. Psalm 109: 29-31 NLT

I am not sure about wishing my accusers to be clothed in humiliation and disgrace. I am sure about giving repeated thanks to God. I need to be praising him to everyone. 

Yet, when I look at my own behavior I find myself doing a lot of criticism and complaints against other people. I find the worst things and harp on them. I fuss because my life is not as good as it could be.

I should be praising God instead! I should be giving thanks to God for all I do have. I should be giving thanks instead of criticizing. 

Let’s give God thanks and praise all day today!

God, I will give repeated thanks to you, praising you to everyone. For you stand by the needy and and are ready to save them. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Copyright Amelia G. Sims 2012

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Lord, you have done it!

Let them see that this is your doing, that you yourself have done it, Lord. Then let them curse me if they like, but you will bless me! When they attack me, they will be disgraced! But I, your servant, will go right on rejoicing! Psalm 109: 28 NLT

Let them see that this is your doing, that you yourself have done it, Lord. 

This past week, my church went to the local elementary school and served the staff a meal. We also are praying for all the staff in our church each week. I suppose it would be easy to pat ourselves on the back and say how good we are.

Yet, we would not have been there without God. If God had not put it on the hearts of our prayer team and had God not provided the food, school supply donations and willing workers, this would never have happened. 

Our church needs to pray that it becomes more and more evident that all this is God’s doing, not our doing. 

Let others see that what you are doing in my life is your doing, not mine. Even when others doubt, may I continue to rejoice. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Copyright Amelia G. Sims 2012

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Pond Scum

For I am poor and needy, and my heart is full of pain. I am fading like a shadow at dusk; I am brushed off like a locust. My knees are weak from fasting, and I am skin and bones. I am a joke to people everywhere; when they seem me, they shake their heads in scorn.  Help me, O Lord my God! Save me because of your unfailing love. Psalm 109: 22-27 NLT

Part of the Calvinistic mindset is saying that human beings are totally worthless and pitiable. Humans have no redemptive factor at all. As someone once said, we are all pond scum. 

Pretty low, huh? 

This part of Psalm 109 seems to agree. I am poor and needy, full of pain, fading like a shadow, brushed off like a locust, skin and bones. In other words, I am nothing. I am a bad joke to everyone who sees me as they shake their heads in scorn. Maybe pond scum would have some better attributes. 

Yet, there is hope (which I frankly don’t see in Calvin’s theology). God will save me because of God’s unfailing love. It has nothing to do with my worth and everything to do with God’s love.

God, thank you for your unfailing love. Remind me how much you love me next time I am feeling like a joke or a fading shadow or even pond scum. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Copyright Amelia G. Sims 2012

Monday, August 27, 2012

God should deal well with me

May those curses become the Lord’s punishment for my accusers who speak evil of me. But deal well with me, O Sovereign Lord, for the sake of your own reputation! Rescue me because you are so faithful and good. Psalm 109: 20-21 NLT

Why should God deal well with me? Is it because I am Christian? A minister? Go to church regularly? Pray every day? Read the bible? Give to the poor? 

No, God should deal well with me because of God’s own reputation.


Should I not be the determining factor in how well God treats me? My secular success certainly depends on how well I do. My feelings about myself also greatly depend on my accomplishments. Doesn’t God pay attention and reward me for my good behavior? 

God will deal well with me because of God’s reputation as a loving and merciful God. It has nothing to do with who I am but with who God is. 

Deal well with me, O Sovereign Lord, for the sake of your own reputation! Rescue me because you are so faithful and good. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Copyright Amelia G. Sims 2012

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Forgetting to be kind

“For he refused all kindness to others, he persecuted the poor and needy, and he hounded the brokenhearted to death. He loved to curse others; now you curse him. He never blessed others; now don’t you bless him. Cursing is as natural to him as his clothing, or the water he drinks, or the rich food he eats. Now may his curses return and cling to him like clothing; may they be tied around him like a belt.” Psalm 109: 16-19 NLT

Now we can understand yesterday’s harsh words of cursing: this person has not only done evil things but he has also been cursing others and hurting the helpless and needy. 

Makes me wonder if I would ask God for these things or if God would even listen to me. Would I be able to pronounce such judgment? Would God carry these out on the other person? 

I also wonder about my own similarities to the evil person. I can think of times in my life when I did refuse a kindness. I know I have lived in such a way that took advantage of the poor and needy. Surely there has been more than one occasion when I have failed to bless someone. I know I have wished bad things on at least one crazy driver in my lifetime. 

God, we come to you to you wanting to put down someone who has done bad things, yet we hesitate because we know we have done some things we are not proud of in our lifetime. Help us to help ourselves before trying to accuse others. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Copyright Amelia G. Sims 2012

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Strong Curses

They say, “Get an evil person to turn against him. Send an accuser to bring him to trial. When his case comes up for judgment, let him be pronounced guilty. Count his prayers as sins. Let his years be few; let someone else take his position. May his children become fatherless, and his wife a widow. May his children wander as beggars and be driven from their ruined homes.May creditors seize his entire estate, and strangers take all he has earned. Let no one be kind to him; let no one pity his fatherless children. May all his offspring die. May his family name be blotted out in a single generation. may the Lord never forget the sins of his fathers; may his mtoher’s sins never be erased from the record. May the Lord always remember these sins, and may his name disappear from human memory. Psalm 109: 6-15 NLT

Whoa! These are some pretty strong curses against someone. Not only to curse the individual but include his family, his sins, his relationship with God. What did this person do to have such weighty punishments inflicted upon him? 

And that is what  all of this amounts to: extreme punishment. These are the punishments being meted out to the one who has done wrong. There is no mercy and no forgiveness in these pronouncements. 

Have you ever wanted to  say similar words over someone you disliked or disagreed with? Did you say them or do something else?

God, please remind us that you are you and we are not. Even when we are at odds with someone else or someone has hurt us deeply, please help us to remain your people. We know that anger or revenge may become too all consuming, so we will rely on you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Copyright Amelia G. Sims 2012

Friday, August 24, 2012

Just Questions

O God, whom I praise, don’t stand silent and aloof while the wicked slander me and tell lies about me. They surround me with hateful words and fight against me for no reason. I love them, but they try to destroy me with accusations even as I am praying for them! They repay evil for good, and hatred for love. Psalm 109: 1-5 NLT

What do you do when those you try to love do nothing but continue to hurt you? 

What do you do when those you are praying for continue to try to destroy you?

What do you do when those for whom you do good things only repay you with evil? 

Do you, can you stand by and do nothing? More importantly, can God just stand by and do nothing? Surely God wants justice for you. Surely God wants to stand up and fight for you. Where is God when you are unjustly accused, and accused by those for whom you tried to do good and loving things? 

For some reason this psalm reminds me of discussions I have had with parents of addicts. What is the loving thing to do with your child? Do you continue to bail them out or let them fall? If they are living on the streets, do you take them in or have them fend for themselves? When you provide them with clothes, food and shelter, they have a tendency to steal stuff for money. They seem to have no love for you, even when you continue to pray. And where is God in all of this? Is God just standing by, watching but doing nothing? 

I don’t have the answers, only the questions.

O God, whom I praise, don’t stand silent and aloof while the wicked slander me and tell lies about me. Help me to know what to do and how to handle rejection, especially those whom I love who have addictions. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

Copyright Amelia G. Sims 2012

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Human Help is Useless

Who will bring me into the fortified city? Who will bring me victory over Edom? Have you rejected us, O God? Will you no longer march with our armies? Oh, please help us against our enemies, for all human help is useless. With God’s help we will do mighty things, for he will trample down our foes. Psalm 108: 10-13  NLT

The psalmist is asking for help in a battle. The first thought is how to get there. The second is who is going to help defeat Edom. Perhaps a trusted ally is needed. The psalmist seems to switch gears here and call on God. A human ally is not what is needed. God’s help is what is needed. It seems like God has rejected the psalmist and the army. God does not seem to be marching with them. 

Then the psalmist asks for God’s help. He realizes that human help is useless -- even the toughest ally cannot do what God can. With God, the enemy is trampled. 

Even in the church, we focus on those things we can do. We think we need to do certain things ourselves and often forget that human help is useless. We enter the battle before we have asked for God’s help. Only with God’s help can we do the really mighty things. 

Please help, us, Lord, for all human help is useless. With your help, we will do mighty things. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Copyright Amelia G. Sims 2012

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

God's Promises

Now rescue your beloved people. Answer and save us by your power. God has promised this by his holiness: “I will divide up Shechem with joy. I will measure out the valley of Succoth. Gilead is mine,and Manasseh too. Ephraim, my helmet, will produce my warriors, and Judah, my scepter, will produce my kings. But Moab, my washbasin, will become my servant, and I will wipe my feet on Edom and shout in triumph over Philistia.” Psalm 108: 6-9 NLT

What promises has God made to you?

I guess I can be sure of God’s mercy and the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ. I know that God loves me. I know God wants to bless me and wants the best for me -- but are those promises? 

I guess often I assume that God guarantees a smooth and worry-free life. But I don’t seem to read that in scripture. God promises gifts of the spirit, God promises that God will never leave me or forsake me. God promises to do more than I can even imagine. 

But a problem-free life is not among them. 

God, we are often asking for rescue, for saving in our lives. But you have other promises you give to us. Help us to see what you have actually promised and praise you for those things, not for the things we think we deserve. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Copyright Amelia G. Sims 2012

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

My heart is confident in God

My heart is confident in you, O God; no wonder I can sing your praises with all my heart! Wake up, lyre and harp! I will wake the dawn with my song. I will thank you, Lord, among all the people. I will sing your praises among the nations. For your unfailing love is higher than the heavens. your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens. May your glory shine over all the earth. Psalm 108: 1-5 NLT

My heart is confident in you, God, so that I wake up with a song in my heart.

I wish I could wake up that way. More likely, I wake up resentful of getting out of bed, frustrated with all the stuff I don’t want to do but have to do this day, critical of my own lack of motivation to get the day started. Singing praises to God is the last thing on my mind!

In fact, I hate to sing first thing in the morning. I can’t stand the retreats I have been on where the first thing (even before coffee) is to sing. For me, it seems unnatural. I would rather be silent and contemplative.

But perhaps I am not so confident in God as I would like to appear. If God is truly in control and I believe it, then I should wake confident. All these other things -- the daily grind as it were -- should pale in comparison to God’s greatness and God’s love. I need more confidence in God. Perhaps I won’t wake up singing but I can wake up praising God.

God, my heart is confident in you. No wonder I can sing your praises with all my heart! In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Copyright Amelia G. Sims 2012

Monday, August 20, 2012

God's Faithful Love in History

When they decrease in number and become impoverished through oppression, trouble and sorrow, the Lord pours contempt on their princes, causing them to wander in trackless wastelands. But he rescues the poor from trouble and increases their families like flocks of sheep. The godly will see these things and be glad, while the wicked are struck silent. Those who are wise will take all this to heart; they will see in our history the faithful love of the Lord. Psalm 107: 39-43 NLT

Can you see the faithful love of God in your own history? 

Sometimes we think we have to have a dramatic redemption story like Saul of Tarsus in order to see God’s love in our past. God is often more subtle in our lives. But God is there all the same.

What about seeing God’s faithful love in the stories of others? The psalmist says that when the poor are rescued and blessed, the godly are glad while the wicked are struck silent. Are you happy when you hear of what God had done in the lives of others? Or are you jealous? Feel left out? Wonder why you don’t have such a dramatic turn around in your own life? What is preventing you from feeling joy?

God, thank you for rescuing the poor from trouble. Help us to be glad when we see you acting in the lives of others, not just our own lives. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Copyright Amelia G. Sims 2012

Sunday, August 19, 2012

God can do mighty things

He changes the rivers into deserts, and springs of water into dry, thirsty land. He turns the fruitful land into salty wastelands, because of the wickedness of those who live there. But he also turns deserts into pools of water, the dry land into springs of water. He brings the hungry to settle there and to build their cities. They sow their fields, plant their vineyards, and harvest their bumper crops. How he blesses them! They raise large families there, and their herds of livestock increase. Psalm 107: 33-38 NLT

God can do great and mighty things. God can make what is a dry and desert place into a healthy and fertile land. God can also take what is bursting with life and make it an arid wasteland. When you are being blessed, God will change where you are into a place where you can grow and prosper. 

We often think that we have to move to a better neighborhood, change jobs or even leave our spouses in order for life to improve. But God is the God who can change even the driest landscape into a blooming field. Perhaps God is waiting on you to change your perspective on things. Have you prayed to God about your situation? Have you asked God to show you what you can do to help turn things around? Are you willing for God to change your attitude? Have you asked God to bless you where you are? 

God, you are the God of supernatural change. You know what my life is like and where I am right now. I am asking you to bless me. Bless me where I stand in my work, my home and my relationships. You are the one who can turn things around. Help me to know what I need to do as well. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Copyright Amelia G. Sims 2012

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Praise God in front of Witnesses

Some went off to sea in ships, plying the trade routes of the world. They, too, observed the Lord’s power in action, his impressive works on the deepest seas. He spoke, and the winds rose, stirring up the waves. Their ships were tossed to the heavens and plunged again to the depths; the sailors cringed in terror. They reeled and staggered like drunkards and were at their wits’ end. “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He calmed the storm to a whisper and stilled the waves. What a blessing was that stillness as he brought them safely into harbor! Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them. Let them exalt him publicly before the congregation and before the leaders of the nation. Psalm 107: 23- 32 NLT

It is not enough to praise God. We must praise God for what God has done in our lives before others, before the congregation or family of God (Sunday school class counts!), and even before the leaders of our cities, states and our country. In other words, don’t keep what God has done to yourself.

The sailors go off to sea to make their fortune either for themselves or someone else. While on the sea, they witness God’s power. The winds and waves put them at the mercy of the sea. They cry out to God to save them. God saves them from the storms and calms the sea. They realize it is only because of what God has done that they make it home safely. Now they lift their voices in praise to God, especially before others.

What can you praise God for in the midst of your congregation? Your coworkers? The leaders in your workplace and your community?

God, may we not only praise you but praise you in front of others for all you have done for us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Copyright Amelia G. Sims 2012

Friday, August 17, 2012

Lord help: the fool

Some were fools; they rebelled and suffered for their sins. They couln’dt stand the thought of food, and they were knocking on death’s door. “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He sent out his word and healed them, snatching them from the door of death. Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them. Let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving and sing joyfully about his glorious acts. Psalm 107: 17-22 NLT

I may not personally know a homeless person or a person in prison but I know plenty of fools. 

How about you? 

I myself could be considered a fool from time to time. I admit I have done foolish things in my life. I have rebelled. I suffered from the things I did, the choices I made.  Even as much as I love to eat, there have been times in my life when the thought of food made me ill. I don’t know how close to death I came -- perhaps close than I think.

In any case, I have been a fool and I know some fools as well. 

But even fools can cry to God. 

And God will hear the cries of even the biggest fool you know: yourself.

Lord, help! Please hear my cry when I am in trouble. Rescue me from my distress. Then I will praise you for your great love and all the things you have done for me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Copyright Amelia G. Sims 2012

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Lord, help: the prisoner

Some sat in darkness and deepest gloom, imprisoned in iron chains of misery. They rebelled against the words of God, scorning the counsel of the Most High. That is why he broke them with hard labor; they fell, and no one was there to help them. “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He let them from the darkness and deepest gloom; he snapped their chains. Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them. For he broke down their prison gates of bronze; he cut apart their bars of iron. Psalm 107: 10-16 NLT

I have never been jail. But I am close to a family who has a relative in a maximum security prison. They have told me a few stories of what life is like in prison. Although there are no real chains nor are prisons today dark dungeons, there are certainly metaphorical chains and darkness. The general feeling seems to be that a person is cut off from one’s family or anyone who would love them. When they fall, it seems like no one is there to help them. Sure, there are those in prison who could care less. At the same time, there are those who are in perfect misery. 

I do know about misery. I’ve experienced it in my own life. I have suffered from depression. I have come home from work to cry tears of hurt and hopelessness. I have had to face bravely face those who wield a great deal of power over my life and challenge them. I know darkness and gloom. I am sure some of you have even darker and gloomier stories in your own lives. 

The good news is that God hears our cries and saves us from distress. In my own life, I see God’s hand at work and know that God continues to save me from the pitfalls. I give God praise and glory!

Lord, help! Please hear my cry when I am in trouble. Rescue me from my distress. Then I will praise you for your great love and all the things you have done for me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Copyright Amelia G. Sims 2012

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Lord, help: the homeless

Some wandered in the wilderness, lost and homeless. Hungry and thirsty, they nearly died. “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he rescued them from their distress. He led them straight to safety, to a city where they could live. Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them. For he satisfied the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things. Psalm 107: 4-9 NLT

I assume that most of you who are reading this have never been homeless. In fact, I would imagine that this scripture sounds very real to those who stay at the local shelter downtown. But I have spoken to many people lately who look a lot like me who are in danger of loosing their home. Loss of employment, health issues, and a bad economy are causing folks to come closer to being those who are lost and homeless.

But even if you don’t fit in that category, I am sure there have been times in your live when you have been lost. When I graduated from college, I moved to a big city and worked for the government. I didn’t know many people and had a hard time adjusting. Although I had a place to live, I was definitely lost. I had gotten as far away from my home -- and from God -- as I could. It took some wandering and a chance meeting with my future husband to get me back to God. 
God satisfied my hunger and my thirst and filled me with good things -- way beyond what I could hope or imagine.

Lord, help! Please hear my cry when I am in trouble. Rescue me from my distress. Then I will praise you for your great love and all the things you have done for me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Copyright Amelia G. Sims 2012

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

God's Faithful Love Endures

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out! Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies. For he has gathered the exiles from many lands, from east and west, from north and south. Psalm 107: 1-3 NLT 

Has the Lord redeemed you? Has God literally paid the price for your freedom? Has God freed you from slavery? 

Of course he has! Through the sacrifice of Jesus, God has paid the price for your freedom. Through Jesus, God has freed you from slavery. You have been redeemed.

So, don’t keep silent about this! If God has truly redeemed you, then speak out! Tell your story. Tell God’s story. Tell about Jesus and his sacrifice. 

This isn’t some ancient text on a library shelf. This is right this very instant good news. This is real. This is happening. And this can happen to those around you, too.

God, we give thanks to you for you are good. Your faithful love endures forever! Thanks be to God in Jesus Christ. Amen.

Copyright Amelia G. Sims 2012

Monday, August 13, 2012

Gather us together

Save us, O Lord our God! Gather us back from among the nations, so we can thank your holy name and rejoice and praise you. Praise the lord, the God of Israel, who lives from everlasting to everlasting! Let all the people say, “Amen!” Praise the Lord! Psalm 106: 47-48 NLT

Gather us together, God. We ask this not for our own sakes but for yours. Bring us into the house of worship so that we may praise your holy name. Help us not to beg and entreat but to praise and glorify. May we come before you with songs on our hearts. May we lift up our faces and our voices to your heavenly throne. May we glorify your name again and again. May we bless your almighty being and your incredible love. As we come before you altar, we will remember all the things you have done for us, even as we recall all the sinful things we have done against you and others. We will praise you for your unfailing love, mercy and righteousness. There will be no end to all of our praises and our worship. We simply ask for your help to gather is in worship this very week. Bring us all together in one place for your glory. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Copyright Amelia G. Sims 2012

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Even in the worst, God is the best

Even so, he pitied them in their distress and listened to their cries. He remembered his covenant with them and relented because of his unfailing love. He even caused their captors to treat them with kindness. Psalm 106: 44-46 NLT 

Even in the midst of the worst the people had done, God still loved them.

Even when their own sins had destroyed them, God still loved them. 

Even when their distress was their own fault, God still loved them. 

God remembered God’s covenant -- even when the people did not.

God relented because of God’s unfailing love -- even when the people’s love for God was nonexistent.

God let their captors treat them with kindness -- even when they had done nothing to deserve it. 

God, thank you for all the times when you continue to love me even when I fail you time and again. Thank you for remembering your promises to me, even when I have forgotten them. Thank you for letting even my enemies treat me with kindness, even while I have done nothing to deserve it. Thank you. In Jesus’ name. amen. 

Copyright Amelia G. Sims 2012

Saturday, August 11, 2012

God still loved them

He handed them over to pagan nations, and they were ruled by those who hated them. Their enemies crushed them and brought them under their cruel power. Again and again he rescued them, but they chose to rebel against him, and they were finally destroyed by their sin. Psalm 106: 41- 43 NLT

Again and again God rescued them but they chose to rebel against him.

Even in God’s anger and disgust, God still tried to rescue them. 

God still helped them. 

God still loved them.

But God’s people just couldn't accept that kind of love. Or were they stupid? Naive? Or just plain hardheaded? Were they too full of themselves and their supposed self-importance that they dismissed God’s help? Did they see God’s help as merely a coincidence? Good karma? A stroke of luck? Or was their a scientific explanation for their rescue? 

Finally, their own sin did them in. Imagine that -- destroyed not by God but by yourself. 

How many times have you ignored God? Rationalized your rescue? Merely forgot about what God has done for you in the past and did your own thing? Allowed your sins to destroy you? 

God still loves you.

God, thank you. Amen.

Copyright Amelia G. Sims 2012

Friday, August 10, 2012

Love's Limit

Israel failed to destroy the nations in the land, as the Lord had commanded them. Instead, they mingled among the pagans and adopted their evil customs. They worshipped their idols, which led to their downfall. They even sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons. They shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters. By sacrificing them to their idols of Canaan, they polluted the land with murder. They defiled themselves by their evil deeds, and their love of idols was adultery in the Lord’s sight. That is why the Lord’s anger burned against his people, and he abhorred his own special possession. Psalm 106: 34-40 NLT

There is a limit to love. Even the deepest love has boundaries. God may love the world but God will be angry when the world abhors God. 

The chosen people did not do as God said. God’s commandments were not trivial; God knew that if the people began to mingle with others, they would begin to do awful thing and to forget God. God’s commandment to kill all the people in the promised land had a purpose but God’s people did not follow through. 

They disobeyed God.

They mingled with pagans.

They adopted their customs.

They worshipped idols - breaking a commandment.

They sacrificed their children - breaking a commandment and God’s heart.

They polluted the land with murder, defiled themselves and committed adultery. 

God was filled with anger and disgust. 

And it all began with disobeying the first request.

God, how many times have I not followed the simplest request from you and found myself in deep trouble? You have every right to be angry. I ask for the mercy found in Jesus to cover all my sins and place me again on the right path. In Jesus’  name. Amen.

Copyright Amelia G. Sims 2012

Thursday, August 9, 2012

He Spoke Foolishly

At Meribah, too, they angered the Lord, causing Moses serious trouble. They made Moses angry, and he spoke foolishly. Psalm 106: 32-33 NLT
This has got to be the ultimate passage for pastors!
How often do our church folk anger us? Anger God? Cause us serious trouble? 
They say 20% of the people can cause 80% of the problems in a church. I believe it!
I also know I have a temper and I have said foolish things from time to time. 
I have also learned to ask for forgiveness. I have learned to eat crow and admit when I have done wrong or lost my head in a situation. I wish I were more calm and slower to anger. I know I am better now than twenty years ago. 
But this passage is also for those who aren’t pastors. I know of parishioners who have been angry at one another and have not spoken because of it. Lifetime friendships have been lost because of anger, serious trouble and speaking foolishly. 
May we forgive one another. 
Copyright Amelia G. Sims 2012

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Not Trusting God to Care for Us

The people refused to enter the pleasant land, for they wouldn’t believe his promise to care for them. Instead, they grumbled in their tents and refused to obey the Lord. Therefore, he solemnly swore that he would kill them in the wilderness, that he would scatter their descendants among the nations, exiling them to distant lands. Then our ancestors joined in the worship of Baal at Peor; they even ate sacrifices offered to the dead! They angered the Lord with all these things, so a plague broke out among them. But Phinehas had the courage to intervene, and the plague was stopped. So he has been regarded as a righteous man ever since that time. Psalm 106: 24-31 NLT 
Do you believe that God wants to care for you? Truly? How much do you trust in God’s care? 
God wants to care for you but you may have to take that on faith and step out into the unknown. You may enter a pleasant land filled with people who look menacing. You may wonder how God is going to take care of you. 
This is what happened when God’s chosen people got to the promised land -- the first time. They refused to enter because they didn’t trust that God would take care of them. Even with the evidence that God had taken care of them so far, they apparently reached the limit of their trust and faith.
Where is the limit of your faith in God? I suppose all of us have such a limit at some points in our lives. Sometimes it takes more than a promise to get us to continue to trust. Sometimes we have to think hard about what God had done in the past for us. And sometimes we just have to believe and go anyway. 
God, you care for me. Help me to trust you and obey you without grumbling. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 
Copyright Amelia G. Sims 2012

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Grass-eating Bull

The people made a calf at Mount Sinai; they bowed before an image made of gold. They traded their glorious God for a statue of a grass-eating bull. They forgot God, their savior, who had done such great things in Egypt-- such wonderful things in the land of Ham, such awesome deeds at the Red Sea. So he declared he would destroy them. But Moses, his chosen one, stepped between the Lord and the people. He begged him to turn from his anger and not destroy them. Psalm 106: 19-23 NLT 
How could God’s people bow down to a statue of a “grass-eating bull?” Sounds ridiculous to us in our day and age. Anyone would know that the statue has no power and no connection with God.
Yet, how many of us worship the almighty dollar? We give more of our lives to those pieces of green than we ever give to God. We focus on our jobs, our bills, our credit cards, our finances when we should be focusing on the God who loves us. 
Then there are those who worship fame. They will do anything to be noticed, to be in magazines, on the Internet, on television. They join reality shows, disrobe in front of cameras and lose their honor and dignity just to have those illusive fifteen minutes. 
There are also those who worship power -- power in the workplace, the government, our schools and even our churches. Those people worship having control and making sure everything goes there way and others look up to them because of it. 
Are any of these things grass-eating bulls? No, but they are just as ridiculous when placed up against our God.
God, help me to worship you and you alone. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Copyright Amelia G. Sims 2012

Monday, August 6, 2012

How quickly we forget

Yet how quickly they forgot what he had done! They couldn’t wait for his counsel! In the wilderness their desires ran wild, testing God’s patience in that dry wasteland. So he gave them what they asked for, but he sent a plague along with it. The people in the camp were jealous of Moses and envious of Aaron, the Lord’s holy priest. Because of this, the earth opened up; it swallowed Dathan and buried Abiram and the other rebels. Fire fell upon their followers; a flame consumed the wicked. Psalm 106: 13-18 NLT 
I can remember what God has done in my life in generalities: my adoption, my family, my churches, my calling. It isn’t until I sit down and write out what I remember, breaking it down into years or decades to recall the wonderful things God has done in my life. 
At the same time, I have to recall time when I coudln’t wait for  God’s counsel (most often) or my desires ran wild, testing God’s patience. Did God ever punish me? perhaps. Did God ever show God’s mercy? Most definitely!
Have you ever had a time in your life when you coudn’t wait for God’s counsel? What was the outcome? How about a time when your desires ran wild? Did you remember to turn back to God? How were you brought back to God? In what ways was God merciful? 
Don’t forget what God has done in your life!
God, forgive me for those times when I have avoided your counsel. Have mercy on me. I have often gone ahead and followed my own desires without praying to you or talking to wise Christians. Forgive me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Copyright Amelia G. Sims 2012

Sunday, August 5, 2012

We have Sinned

Like our ancestors, we have sinned. We have done wrong! We have acted wickedly! Our ancestors in Egypt were not impressed by the Lord’s miraculous deeds. They soon forgot his many acts of kindness to them. Instead, they rebelled against him at the Red Sea. Even so, he saved them -- to defend the honor of his name and to demonstrate his mighty power. He commanded the Red Sea to dry up. He led Israel across the sea as if it were a desert. So he rescued them from their enemies and redeemed them from their foes. Then the water returned and covered their enemies; not one of them survived. Then his people believed his promises. Then they sang his praise. Psalm 106: 6-12 NLT 
Like our ancestors, we have sinned. 
I don’t want to think about how my ancestors have sinned. Were they slave owners? Did they do cruel things to other people? Did they leave God and live in sin? Did they follow God’s commandments? How many were truly Christian? And what about my grandparents? What sins did they commit? Do I want to think about those as well? 
I don’t want to consider how those who came before me sinned. However, the psalmist reminds us that we are all human. Just as I have my own weaknesses, so did my ancestors. The important fact is not the sin but God’s mercy. We all need to ask for forgiveness.
God, like my ancestors, I have sinned. I have done wrong. I have acted wickedly. Have mercy on me, Lord, and forgive me. In Jesus’ merciful name I pray. Amen.
Copyright Amelia G. Sims 2012

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Remember me

Remember me, Lord, when you show favor to your people; come near and rescue me. Let me share in the prosperity of your chosen ones. Let me rejoice in the joy of your people; let me praise you with those who are your heritage. Psalm 106: 4-5 NLT 
I hate being left out. I think it comes from growing up as a shy only child. I never figured out how to ask to be included in other groups and often found myself left out or becoming the third wheel. Also, I was never very athletic so that did not help. I was usually one of the last being chosen for team games like kickball. 
Did I mention how much I dislike being left out?
So it is not surprising that I want to be included in God’s favor, mercy and blessings. 
The psalmist also wants to be included in God’s blessings. He wants to be one of the ones praising God and joining in the joy of being a part of God’s chosen people. 
How about you? How much do you want to be a part of God’s people? Do you really want to be one of God’s chosen? Do you want God to remember you when you need to be rescued? Do you want to rejoice in the joy of God’s people? 
God, remember me when you show favor to your people; come near and rescue me. Let me share in the prosperity of your chosen ones. Let me rejoice in the joy of your people; let me praise you with those who are your heritage. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Copyright Amelia G. Sims 2012

Friday, August 3, 2012

Who can praise God enough?

Praise the Lord! Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. Who can list the glorious miracles of the Lord? Who can ever praise him enough? There is joy for those who deal justly with others and always do what is right. Psalm 106: 1-3 NLT 
Who can ever praise God enough?
God has done so much for us. We tend to focus on the things that have gone badly in our lives while not paying attention to what God has done. Or we totally have forgotten about the times when we left God or ignored God’s commands to do what we wanted. We don’t think about our sins when we focus on our needs and wants. 
Yet, God still loves us. God is good. God’s love never fails. 
The psalmist reminds us the importance of praise, yet lets us know that God has done so much in our lives that we can never praise God enough.
Spend some time today praising God.
God, we praise you. We give thanks to you, for you are good! Your faithful love endures forever. Who can list the glorious miracles that you have done in our lives? Who can ever praise you enough? We praise you, God. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Copyright Amelia G. Sims 2012

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Have you let God down?

The Lord brought his people out of Egypt, loaded with silver and gold; and not one among the tribes of Israel even stumbled. Egypt was glad when they were gone, for they feared them greatly. The Lord spread a cloud above them as a covering and gave them a great fire to light the darkness. They asked for meat; and he sent them quail; he satisfied their hunger with manna –bread from heaven. He split open a rock, and water gushed out to form a river through the dry wasteland. For he remembered his sacred promise to his servant Abraham. So he brought his people out of Egypt with joy, his chosen ones with rejoicing. He gave his people the lands of pagan nations, and they harvested crops that others had planted. All this happened so they would follow his decrees and obey his instructions. Praise the Lord! Psalm 105: 37-45 NLT

Okay, so this psalm has done a careful bit of editing around the whole wandering in the wilderness story. But that's okay because the focus is not on the whining of God's people. The focus is on what God did for them.

God got them out of dodge with lots of doodads. In other words, they left a rich people. No one was left behind. God provided covering during the day, light at night and a clear path to follow. God made sure they had meat, bread, and water in the merciless desert. God never forgot his promise to Abraham – even when it was a bit delayed. He then gave them the promised land with plenty of homes, land and crops that they did not plant themselves.

God did all these things so that God's people will be as faithful as God was.

Too bad we have let God down.

God, forgive me when I have not been as committed to you as you are to me. You have done so much for me, even with all my complaints. Thank you. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2012 Amelia G. Sims

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

God wants your attention

But the Lord sent his servant Moses, along with Aaron, whom he had chosen. They performed miraculous signs among the Egyptians, and wonders in the land of Ham. The Lord blanketed Egypt in darkness, for they had defiled his commands to let his people go. He turned their water into blood, poisoning all the fish. Then frogs overran the land and even invaded the king's bedrooms. When the Lord spoke, flies descended on the Egyptians , and gnats swarmed across Egypt. He sent them hail instead of rain, and lightening flashed over the land. He ruined their grapevines and fig trees and shattered all the trees. He spoke, and hordes of locusts came – young locusts beyond number. They ate up everything green in the land, destroying all the crops in their fields. Then he killed the oldest son in each Egyptian home, the pride and joy of each family. Psalm 105: 26-36 NLT

What would it take for God to get you attention?

What kind of miracles would God have to enact for you to be released from the things holding you back?

Would God have to go as far as killing for you to be free?

Jesus has died for your sins. God has allowed a killing of his first born son, his pride and joy, so that you may have true freedom. The miracle is that God didn't stop there. God wanted more than just forgiveness of our sins. God wanted us to live with God forever. So, God raised his son from the dead.

What will it take for you to realize what God has done for you?

Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again. Glory to be to God in the Highest. And in our lives, peace. Amen.

Copyright 2012 Amelia G. Sims