HOPE Psalm 115

It’s tempting to put yourself directly into a Bible passage that you’re reading.  Usually, that’s fine.  But sometimes, like that famous glove at the O.J. Simpson trial, it just doesn’t fit!  How about when Judas goes out and hangs himself when next you read this– ‘go and do likewise’.  No, don’t!  But in today’s psalm, I’m holding on tightly to a fragment of a verse.  It’s for me, personally.

Psalm 115: 13–‘…he will bless those who fear the Lord, both small and great.’  One word lifts my heart–  ‘small’.  As in those of us who don’t get much of the world’s attention, who leave a mark not quite matching the rich and famous.

The Lord levels the playing field.  Everyone can be blessed by God.  Everyone.  The small and the great.  Note the order here–‘ small’ first and ‘great’ later.

Our culture celebrates big-shot go-getters.  The super-rich.  The high-mucky-muck.  Prima donna hotshots.  And that’s sort of okay with me.  For many of them create jobs, foster progress moving life forward, even though many lead tragic and horrible lives.

But here in God’s Word, they’re not the only ones who matter.  There’s room even for the likes of me.  The small.  From Podunk.  Bottom rung, entry level and lightweight.  After all, I’m no Max Lucado.  Or C.S. Lewis.  Or any other popular author or preacher, for that matter.  Why not?  Lots of reasons.

Nevertheless, here I am, chugging along writing weekly devotionals for almost nine years now, to encourage and challenge others with no monetary gain for myself.  All done gladly and willingly.  Even my two published daily devotional books have put us in a lower tax bracket!  The small.  Me.

Franklin Graham hasn’t signed up to receive these weekly devotions…yet.  Oh well, his loss?  Probably not.  But really doesn’t matter.  Small is good.  I’ll take it.  Do you believe that?  I do… on good days.  But on others?  Well, you know!

What does God want?  Here’s that first part of verse 13–‘…he will bless those who fear the Lord…’  What’s this about fearing Him?  Fear means to worship, love, and be loyal to God.  Not cringing, dreading the back of His hand.  Though if we thumb our nose at God, rebelling with abandon, we probably should watch out.  But that’s not me.  Or you?

So, be blessed!  You know the Lord, don’t you?  Jesus makes us family…both small and great!  Room for all at His inn.  Mansions over His hilltop await even a small-fry follower like me!

Thank you, Jesus, for bringing me close to you forever.  Amen.

WASTING AWAY 2 Corinthians 4

Polio rears its ugly head once again. Not in some third world country, but in the New York City area of the United States. As one who contracted this disease at the age of two, let me tell you that this is not good news. Oh, that polio had been wiped out… forever.

Catching polio at such an early age leaves me fearful, apprehensive, and lonely. In isolation at a hospital polio clinic miles from home and family, life gets skewed rather early for me. Actually, I was very fortunate. I had polio’s lesser type. No permanent paralysis. No iron lung for breathing. I’ve joked over the years that the only residual effect has been a thinner left leg. Anything thin in my body, I’ll gladly take!

But it’s not so funny anymore. That leg is shrinking. Atrophy sets in. Becomes so noticeable that my sister says that I should ditch my outdoors warm weather shorts. Wear long pants. Cover up what’s becoming quite obvious.

Somehow I’m not too down-in-the-mouth about it. Not hopeless and despondent. For I’ve learned that the Bible is true, through and through. What God says matters. I try to listen to Him, as best I can.

Three verses among thousands speak to me about what’s happening with my diminishing left leg. 2 Corinthians 4: 16-18–‘So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.’

So, how can I handle this wasting away business? To accept what I can’t change? Not fight back saddled with unbridled fears and anxiety? Hang in there until…? You know when and where, don’t you?

I know that this life is but a prelude. We wait in the wings as the performance is about to begin, and we’re in the cast of the Show of Shows. What can’t and won’t be changed in this life will disappear like fog on a quickly warming morning. Until then be renewed day by day. Until then all we need to do is trust Him. Hold His hands. Throw our nail-biting jitters on His shoulders. Keep close by Jesus no matter what. No matter how long it takes. Until the Lord takes it all away as He’ll do for each of us who know and love Him.

Wasting away, mine or yours, will waste away once and for all. Amen to that!

Thank you, Jesus, for promises made and promises you’ll surely keep. Amen.


Poor Balaam.  He’s really in a pickle.  Brought from his home a thousand miles away to do the nasty bidding of a king to earn a king’s ransom.  Or so he hopes.  Balaam has garnered a world-class reputation as a seer and prophet.  When he casts curses, gloom and doom arrive lickety-split.  When he offers blessings, a cornucopia of good things spills out.  When he speaks, things happen.  That’s Balaam.

But this time?  He sweats bullets, knowing that his fame could be shattered.  Why?  How?  Well, his curses against ancient Israel fall flat.  Backfire into blessings, unwanted and unexpected by Balaam along with that furious, frustrated Moabite King Balak (Numbers 22).  I love what’s written in the book of Nehemiah about all this cursing/blessing business–‘…yet our God turned the curse into a blessing’ (Neh. 13:2).

A church I served many years ago faced a toxic crisis.  It centers somewhat on me.  I’m a mere two years into this pastorate when all you-know-what breaks loose.  Poor me?  A victim of nastiness, which I’d never experienced before or after?  Could be but really not so simple.  I’m not smelling like a rose.  But neither was that small leadership gang hell-bent to oust me.

Regrets?  Of course.  I was too young to head up such a large church.  Too naive and inexperienced.  Theologically evangelical, a fish out of water in a tepid liberal church stream.  I still scratch my head wondering if this was where the Lord wanted me to be.  But Lord, here I am.  Actually, out the door, even though the congregation votes two-to-one in support of my ministry with them.

But the next higher church authority, the one with the final say, says ‘adios amigo’.  Without any ‘amigo’ said or heard.  ‘And by the way, don’t let the backdoor slam behind you on your way out.’  I’m like a painful kidney stone needing immediate surgical removal.  Ouch.

A curse the likes of which Balaam would love to cast.  All I know is that that moment of rejection becomes the very beginning of many blessings.  I start a different career as a financial planner, which I love, and am blessed eventually with over 850 clients and friends.  Even former church members.

Years later another local church, just a stone’s throw from the other, takes a chance on me, and we share fourteen amazing years, seeing all that the Lord wants to do in and beyond those four walls!  It’s about Him this time.  During the worst of times, when we rely on Him, Jesus transforms it into the good, the better, and even the best.  He does that.  He’s good at that.  Often, despite us.

He’ll do it for you.  If for me then, of course, for you.  If you’re now in one of those times, scared and spooked, ask Jesus for His help.  Could He be nudging some changes in you?  An hour or two looking in the mirror of your heart?  A bit of good old-fashioned repentance?  A pause in that handy ‘blaming others game’?  Am I stepping on tender toes?  Oh well…

For I know how He can turn lemons into tasty lemonade!  You will, too.  But in His time.  In His way.

Thank you, Jesus, for second chances.  Amen.


This week I’m looking at Psalm 92, which exhibits a great contrast.  Of what?  Of those close to the Lord and those who ban His presence from their lives, shunning Him, wanting nothing to do with Jesus.

Life overflows with contrasts.  Extraverts and introverts.  Savers and spenders.  Takers and givers.  Artists and me.  Those handy with tools and me.  Who can build almost anything and then there’s me!

But in Psalm 92 we see the ultimate contrast, the spiritual one, which counts for eternity.  After praising the Lord for His steadfast love and faithfulness, the psalmist paints an unflattering picture of the unbeliever–‘How great are your works, O Lord!  Your thoughts are very deep!  The stupid man cannot know; the fool cannot understand this: that though the wicked sprout like grass and all evildoers flourish, they are doomed to destruction forever’ (Ps. 92:5-7).  Stupid…fool…wicked…evildoers…doomed.

Those words should take your breath away.  Sad and sobering thoughts about those who thumb their noses at God.  Who tell Jesus to take a hike.  That He shouldn’t bother them.  Mind His own beeswax.  Bug off.   Vamoose.  Unfortunately for them, their wish will be granted.

But what about those who cuddle up a little closer to Jesus?  Who know how much they need Him, while not deserving one crumb from His table.  Yet He gives them His all.  Every bit…eventually.  Here’s the portrait of the believer–‘The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.  They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish…They still bear fruit in old age…’ (Ps. 92: 12-14).

Such a contrast.   Okay believer, now get with the program.  Stop sitting around smelling the roses.  Admiring yourself for how much God loves you.  Idle.  On the shelf.  One of God’s unemployed.  What happened to bearing fruit and flourishing?

So, keep growing.  Spending more time in your Bible.  Praying.  Being less of a worry wart and not such a nervous Nellie.  More hopeful and optimistic.  Actually believing God.

And how do I stack up?  Knew you wondered.  Probably Sr. Perfectomente?  Right?  Wrong.  To be honest, I’m working on it.  To be like Jesus, knowing I’m nowhere near that goal.  Barely in the ballpark.  More like I’m in third grade; when, at my age, I should already have received my doctorate.

But the trend is my friend.  Two steps forward, one back.  Three forward, two back.  Overall, heading His way.  Slowly but surely inching forward.  After all, He’s not done with me.  Or with you either, for that matter.

Thank you, Jesus, for helping me to be more and more like you.  Amen.