LEARNED MY LESSON Psalm 119: 9-16

Here’s a familiar verse–‘I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you’ (Psalm 119:11).  God’s Word, hidden in our hearts and minds, becomes an impregnable wall against encroaching sin.  A holy hedge.  A godly fence.

The word ‘hidden’ often translates as ‘stored up’.   Sometimes you hide something if you’re afraid it could be stolen or when you don’t want to share.  But here ‘hidden’ refers to having a storehouse of needed help.

Let’s store up God’s Word.  Take it in.  Chew on it.  Squirrel it away.  A godly rainy day fund.  Stashed away.  Then put to work for Him.

When I was a student at Chicago’s Moody Bible Institute, my spiritual immaturity stored up too little of God’s Word.  I was a top student.  Loved the biblical scholastic challenges.  Graduated 2nd in my class.  And, yes, there were more than 2 of us.  Like hundreds, wisenheimer!  But I seemed to relish food even more.

We ate well at Moody.  Institutional food there was surprisingly delicious, especially those Sunday morning cheese omelets.  So yummy and gooey!  When I overslept weekday breakfast, I’d go to the Sweet Shoppe and order one of Pop Mitchell’s own, over-the-top, 3-egg cheddar cheese omelets.  Fluffy and tangy.  Slid down my gullet so easily!

Walking back from historic Moody Church, about a mile from the school, I’d stop by a funky hot dog stand that served the most amazing loaded franks, along with gobs of the greasiest French fries I’d ever eaten, all wrapped in old newspaper.  Needed protective clothing to avoid the dripping stains!  Don’t remember much of the sermons I heard at Moody Church, but have never forgotten that jaw-dropping hot dog stand.  See what I mean?

Distracted.  Earthbound.  Carnal.  Too little storehouse of God’s Word.  It was telling.  Took it’s toll on me.  How about you?  Interruptions galore, making your time in the Bible only if available, with nothing better to do?  Weather-permitting?  Anybody have a TV Guide?  Where’s my I-phone?  My I-pad?  Sound familiar?  Sadly, I know.

But not any longer.  I’ve learned my lesson.  No more scratching the surface for me.  Taking the low road of nibbling on the Bible, toying with the Word of God, snacking and sampling, leads to nowhere fast.  And that’s on a good day.  Regretfully, I know.

So, get into your Bible.  Get it into you.  Hidden.  Every day.  Let it be a storehouse.  Will come in handy, for sure!  Gladly, I know!


Thank you, Lord, for help found in your Word just when I need it most.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen.

ABRAHAM’S FRIEND AND OURS 2 Chronicles 20 and John 15

Do you have many friends?  The older we get the more precious they become.  Ironically, that’s when we start to lose them.  Making new ones?  Hard as nails.  Pointedly difficult.  When we need them most, their numbers decrease.

One friendship we can count on above all others is with our Lord.  He’s our totally trustworthy friend.  Immovable in His caring for His own.  That means you…and me!  Makes a difference in our daily lives?  Should.

But does it?  To know He’s reliable and dependable.  Not fickle or competitively jealous.  Won’t drop us like a hot potato.  He’s our friend.  Jesus says–‘I no longer call you servants…Instead, I have called you friends…’ (John 15:15).  We are Jesus’ friends.

Here’s a question.  Can He count on us to be trustworthy and true?  To stand up for Him?  To be Jesus’ friend?

To be honest, sometimes.  At other times, I’m less than resilient.  Weak-kneed, lacking prayer and patience.  Sadly, not always His best friend as He is for me.  Don’t you wish you could be a better friend…to Jesus?

Abraham, the premier Old Testament patriarch, is far from perfect.  Read his story in the early chapters of Genesis.  Tells lies.  Gives his wife into someone else’s harem to save his own skin.  Somehow avoids ‘Divorce Court’!  Nevertheless, in 2 Chronicles 20:7 the author writes this–‘…of Abraham your (God’s) friend…’  Abraham is friend to God.  How wonderful!

Friendship.  Something mutual.  Give-and-take.  Two-way street.  A covenant bond, like marriage between a man and a woman.  Commitment.

Not of equals for God is the only perfect One.  He holds our hands, knowing full-well we need His constant help.  Even as imperfect as we are, He cherishes our friendship, such as it is.  That’s grace.  With gobs of mercy.  But we strive to be better.  Don’t we?

Yes.  And Jesus loves me enough not to leave me the way I am.  Wants to clean me up.  Wipe off the dirt and grime from my knees, which have wallowed in sin and shame.  Nudges me, stubborn old me, to grow up and mature.  To get out of my grubby, ungodly ruts.  Thank the Lord, He’s not done with me yet!

On top of that, He won’t abandon me.  He reaches out even when I’m in resistance mode.  After all, He’s my friend.  Yours too.  Stays closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24).

We can count on Jesus.  Can He with us?


Thank you, Jesus, for your friendship.  Amen.



The first musical play I attend is ‘Carousel’, starring a teenager named Liza Minelli, performing at the historic Papermill Playhouse in my hometown of Millburn, New Jersey.  The popular song in ‘Carousel’ is ‘Love Makes the World Go Round’.  A catchy tune with memorable words.  Love, at the very heart of this world, makes it go round-and-round.

Reading Psalm 136, I discover love’s source.  Who makes it happen.  Love, not only keeps the world spinning on its rotation and axis, but permeates the very air we breathe.  Rather than sing Carousel’s hit song, let’s delve deeper into the heart of God’s love, found in this psalm.  With me?

Immediately you’ll notice a refrain, repeated at the end of each verse.  Twenty-six times this phrase is sung by God’s people–‘His love endures forever’.  Every verse reminds us of God’s love.  Hard to forget when it’s said over-and-over again.  Love makes this psalm go round!

Not love on its own.  It’s His love that’s celebrated.  God’s love.  Disconnected from the Lord, at best you get a lesser form of affection.  A liking that rarely lasts for long.

But love, fused to God, clamped tightly to Him, embraces an eternal quality.  It comes from One who has no beginning and no end.  Therefore, ‘His love endures forever.’  An unbroken circle.

The Hebrew word ‘chesed’ (‘love’) is hard to translate into English.  Lots of synonyms come to mind.  Like faithfulness and kindness.  Covenant relationship and promise.  Commitment and loyal love.   ‘Chesed’ reaches to God’s highest goodness, though that’s merely the outer reaches of His love’s fullness.  And even that’s only the beginning!

‘His love endures…’  Even puts up with the likes of me…and you!  Now, that’s something!  His loving care outlasts our sin and shame.  When we get on our knees before Jesus, He never throws salt in our wounds.  Never keeps nagging us about our faults.  After all, He forgives AND forgets.  Something I’ve experienced in no one else, including and especially me.

‘His love endures forever.’  How long?  Forever.  That’s a long time.  As in never running out.  No final straw that breaks His camel’s back.  No.  Forever and ever…and beyond!

This Valentine’s Day week, let’s celebrate God’s love that created the world, rotating it round-and-round on its axis,  running through every bit and morsel of our daily lives.  Yes!  ‘His love endures forever’!


Lord, thank you for your love which lasts forever.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.





Let’s talk about family.  Maybe not!  Wish I could report that our clan exhibits only peace and tranquility.  Not so.  However, we’re not alone, are we?  Hardly.

Sad to admit,  I’ve let down lots of family.  Please don’t ask them!  You may get an earful!  I’ve given big hurts through the years, with some of the same aimed directly at me.  I wonder about the greeting I’ll get at heaven’s family gates?  ‘Well done…’?  Or ‘what are you doing here?’

Consider  Revelation 14:13–“Then I heard a voice from heaven say,  ‘Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’  ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.'”

When down-in-the-family-dumps, this verse is for you…and me.  In Jesus (here’s the key), when our time is up on earth, in Jesus we find ‘rest’.  And peace.  Burdens lift.  Sorrows cease.  Failures flee.  Sins given a swift kick-in-the-pants.  Joys dominate.

But only if you’re ‘in the Lord’.  In Jesus.  Being His.  Committed to the Son of God.  Born anew.  That’s you?

In addition,  we’re told that, if we’re in Jesus, we’ll bring something with us to heaven.  Like all my vintage Yankee baseball cards?  No.  Too bad Mickey, Whitey and Yogi!  How about my Hull Pottery ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ ceramics collection?  Sorry, Charlie!  No can do.

But something much better–‘…for their deeds will follow them’ (Rev. 14: 13).  Anything we’ve done for Jesus, even things tiny as a mustard seed (Luke 13: 18-19), will accompany us to Heaven’s gates and beyond.  Whatever they may be, they’ll all be welcome in Paradise.  Each and every one.  Big or small.  Accompanying us to Jesus Himself.

Good deeds for Jesus’ sake will go with us through the valley of the shadow until we see Him face to face.  Talk about the red carpet treatment!

The more we do… Well, you get the point!  And the more the merrier!

Thank you, Jesus, for welcoming us into your presence.  Amen.