As I kid I often wondered why cats got stuck in trees. After all they are great climbers and they seemed to go up the tree so effortlessly. I researched it and learned that cats have claws that curve the right way to ascend, but the wrong way to come back down if they try it head-first, which is the only way they can think to do it. As Christians, we too easily find our way into situations, but have a difficult time figuring out how to get out.
Zacchaeus climbed a tree to get a better look at Jesus. He had heard about him and wanted to see for himself. Jesus called for Zacchaeus to come out of the tree so he could go to his house. Zacchaeus went up the tree one way but came down another. As Christians, when we find ourselves in situations that we can't extricate ourselves from, we must also listen for the voice of the Master and heed his instructions. We have to repent. We have to confess our sins. We may have to repay. So how do cats get outof trees? The same way we can get out of trouble: We have to come down looking up.
If you have climbed a tree of sin and find yourself high in its branches today and are afraid , look heavenward and find your way down.
There is a joke about a Sunday School teacher filling in for the regular teacher. She was struggling to open a combination lock that held the craft supplies needed for the morning's lesson. She had been told the combination but had forgotten. Finally, she went to the pastor's study to ask for help. The pastor came into the room and began to turn the dial. After the first two numbers he paused for a moment and looked serenely heavenward while his lips moved silently. Suddenly, he looked down, turned to the last number and opened the lock. The teacher was amazed at the pastor's faith and told him so. "It's really nothing," replied the pastor. "The number is on a piece of tape on the ceiling." Our answers are not on the ceiling, as Christians, we know our help comes from the Lord.
In Psalm 40, David describes his situation as in extreme peril. He was in a "desolate pit", a "miry bog". The implication is that the situation was so bad every time he tried to get out he slipped or was pulled back in. Many of us know this situation well. In the midst of our trouble we see no way out. And many times, in addition to our trouble, we have an active audience of those who seemingly take pleasure in our trouble. David waits patiently. God hears his cry and sets his feet upon a rock, making his steps secure. David understands that God's mercy is unmerited and is thankful and quick to tell all those who will listen about the goodness of the Lord. In your time of trouble, look up. When God delivers you, be truly thankful.
My prayer for you today is that God hears your cry, sees you waiting patiently and comes quickly to deliver you.
My brother, James is three years older than I am. This is significant when you are in grade school. I was nine and he was eleven but after school we did almost everything together. We were the foosball champs at the local youth center on the military base we lived on in Germany. We played all types of sports but among our favorites was football. We practiced a single play over and over again we called the 'Reggie Mantle" for reasons I've long forgotten. He would be the quarterback and I would be the tight end. I would run straight out at full speed and at the last minutes break left sharply and meet the ball at a spot he always threw it to. It was a play that was hard to defend. There was no indication of where I was going or where the ball would be. I was a little kid playing with larger boys. I was the one it wasn't necessary to guard with a skilled player. More often than not, this play would result in a touchdown. It was the result of perfect trust and the understanding between us that if I got to the spot where the ball would be, it would be there. He knew it and I knew it. The story of David and Goliath offers great reassurance for the Christian. Complete trust in God yields powerful results.
The biblical account of David and Goliath is powerful and detailed. The Bible paints David, the young shepherd boy as almost arrogant. Sent to the battlefront to deliver food to his brothers, he becomes indignant that this giant is ridiculing the army of God. As he persists in asking questions he begins to raise the ire of the soldiers. Ultimately he is taken to King Saul. He recounts facing lions and bears defending his sheep. It is important to note that he didn't simply ward the wild animals off – he pursued them and snatched the sheep out of the jaws of these beasts to restore them back to the fold. When he finally persuades Saul to let him face the giant, he is unable to wear the armor or wield the standard weapons of war so he falls back on his weapon of choice, a slingshot. He selects five smooth stones from the river and vanquishes the giant Goliath. As Christians, we must trust that our abilities, finances, health, personalities, stature or even age might, to the world, look like insurmountable obstacles; but adding unwavering trust in God will give us success beyond belief.
By faith today, let your faith in God take you victoriously through every situation you encounter.
It took scientists and engineers a long time to figure out how bumblebees fly. Generally the flight of objects heavier than air can be described by a combination of lift and thrust. Using the lift + thrust model, engineers can calculate the size and shape of the wing needed to get lift and the amount of power required to generate sufficient thrust. Unfortunately, the bumblebee has neither. Heavy and round with tiny wings, it just seems impossible for the chubby little black and yellow insect to get off the ground. Yet it clearly does fly. We now know that the bumblebee's wings and the muscle system they are attached to work differently than most other flying things. The wings move in a figure eight pattern, about 130 times per second, creating lift in both the forward and backward strokes. The muscles work like a rubber band not needing to contract. Important to the Christian is the fact that for the thousands of years that scientists had no explanation for the flight of the bumblebee –it flew anyway. Christians live in assurance of their salvation through Jesus Christ.
Faith is critically important in the life of a Christian. When people have no hope they behave differently. Desperation sets in and behavior that would have been unthinkable when hope is present becomes acceptable in the absence of hope. Without hope our actions begin to lead us down a pathway to destruction. In the book of Job, when Job's situation seemed irreversible, his wife told him to curse God and die (Job 2:9). You might find yourself today in a tough situation. You may have decided that there is no way out. Looking at your situation, from all of the angles available to you, it might seem as if there is no chance you will come out of your situation unscathed. Remember that God has two perspectives that you don't: From above and from the future. Trust in the Lord. Hold on to the faith you have. Pray for additional faith.
My prayer for you today is that you hold on until God meets you with mercy.
Do you struggle to make time for a few minutes each morning to reflect on God's goodness and seek his direction for your day? Most of us do. Point Me In The Right Direction was written for people with busy schedules who recognize the need to start the day out right. Each of these devotionals can be read in a few minutes and can help you begin your day with purpose.
Larry Woodard is the kind of writer that doesn't get in the way of the material. I found this book a very easy read. It sneaks up on you that it is also profound- JM
On more than one occasion, I picked up the book to read the morning devotion and found myself emotionally moved by how dead on the devotion I was reading was to what I was dealing with in my life.- KM
I've read the devotional "What to Do When You get Bad News" dozens of times and shared it with friends during their time of need. It is one of the best things I've ever read about how to deal with adversity- MG
I would recommend this book to anyone…to stuff in your kids suitcase when they are off to college…to gift to a friend…to keep in your glove compartment. I read 3 or 4 at a time and I'm good. It's like re-booting my spiritual computer.- JA