Monday, February 29, 2016


“[Abraham] was trusting God so much that he was willing to do whatever God told him to do. His faith was made complete by what he did – by his actions.” (James 2:22 NLT)

To many Christians, “faith” means sincerely believing something is true when you don’t have any evidence. In fact, faith is acting on what you know full well is true: God is able to keep His promise and can be trusted to do it. Faith that is only theoretical conviction isn’t faith yet. Real faith – living faith, saving faith – does something about it.

God had promised Abraham that Isaac would be the father of an entire nation. When the Lord commanded him to sacrifice his only son, faith wasn’t some abstract issue of believing without evidence. Faith meant taking the risk of obedience – frightening as it was – because Abraham knew God could keep the promise even if Isaac died. Raising a son from the dead is right down God’s alley!

The life of faith is a life of taking risks that aren’t actually risky. When God puts a challenge before you – even one that seems crazy to your human nature – you can step out in confidence because you know God is able and faithful. When your faith and actions are working together, then your faith will be made complete.

-- Mark Kelly, from "The Purpose Driven Life Daily Devotional"


Friday, February 26, 2016


[Lent] involves gathering in community… Lent was traditionally a time to prepare for baptism and for those who had separated themselves from the community to be restored by penitence and forgiveness. It invites us to remember that in the early days of Christianity, “the whole congregation was reminded of the mercy and forgiveness proclaimed in the gospel of Jesus Christ and the need we all have to renew our faith.” None of us come to either the days of Lent or the joy of Easter morning alone. We are joined by the company of believers -- not only the ones who sit beside us [in church], but also those who have made the Lenten journey through the centuries. It is the latter who have left us guidance for how to prepare for the resurrection of Christ. They have left spiritual practices to enable us to walk through the valley of these 40 days and to engage with our sin and mortality and to receive with gratitude God’s love and grace.

-- Nancy Ferguson, from


Thursday, February 25, 2016


Jesus wants us to see that the neighbor next door or the people sitting next to us on a plane or in a classroom are not interruptions to our schedule. They are there by divine appointment.  Jesus wants us to see their needs, their loneliness, their longings, and He wants to give us the courage to reach out to them.

-- Rebecca Manley Pippert


Wednesday, February 24, 2016


Jesus said, “You did not choose Me but I chose you” (John 15:16). This statement could ruffle some feathers because we always want to be the ones doing the choosing. Providing choices has become a marketable asset, from the supermarket’s staggering array of options to the infinite amount of choices we make each day concerning what we will eat, wear, and visit.

Inversely, not being chosen can have its negative sides. A humiliating childhood memory concerns recess when I was the last kid chosen for a team activity. Worse than being chosen last, I felt merely tolerated by my teammates.

Our desire to be chosen is why Gospel stories such as the parable of the ninety-nine sheep are so powerful for many of us. Jesus left all the rest and came looking for me! Amazing things happen when Jesus calls a person by name. To be named is to be called; to be called is to be chosen; to be chosen is to be claimed. When Peter, James, and John heard their names, each of them immediately abandoned what they were about, all that they had, and whom they had become. Jesus has this uncanny ability to make a person feel chosen.

-- W. Paul Jones in Becoming Who God Wants You to Be


Tuesday, February 23, 2016


"I will praise the Lord as long as I live. I will sing praises to my God with my dying breath. Don’t put your confidence in powerful people; there is no help for you there. When they breathe their last, they return to the earth, and all their plans die with them. But joyful are those who have the God of Israel as their helper, whose hope is in the Lord their God."  (Psalm 146:2-5 NLT)

The problem with too much Christianity is not that it is too radical, but rather that it is not radical enough -- putting too much faith in politics and politicians rather than in the One Who governs all -- too much energy in building kingdoms rather than advancing The Kingdom -- and too much time pointing to ourselves rather than to the One Who was, and is, and is to come.

-- Steve Harper


Monday, February 22, 2016


It's the picture of violence, yet the key to peace.
A picture of suffering, yet the key to healing.
A picture of sorrow, yet the key to joy.
A picture of death, yet the key to life.
A picture of utter weakness, yet the key to power.
A picture of capital punishment, yet the key to mercy and forgiveness.
A picture of vicious hatred, yet the key to love.
A picture of supreme shame, yet the Christian's supreme boast.

-- Author unknown


Friday, February 19, 2016


Jesus once said that with God, all things are possible, and the great thing about life with God is that your next step is always possible.  That step toward God is always waiting, no matter what you have done or how you have messed up your life.  Jesus was hanging on a cross with a thief hanging next to Him, and Jesus turned to him and said, “Today you will be with Me in paradise.”

There is always a next step.

-- John Ortberg in The Me I Want To Be


Thursday, February 18, 2016


Is it really necessary to serve God? What is the purpose of changing our priorities to accomplish tasks that God could honestly do better and more quickly without us? Peter addresses the importance of serving God in 1 Peter 4:10-11: “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” Peter makes it clear that we have received our gifts from God for two purposes -- to serve others and to bring praise to God. Serving isn’t about us receiving attention or glory; it is for Him to receive glory.

How does God receive glory when we serve? The transforming power of Jesus Christ is on display in the lives of those who have traded selfishness for selflessness. Peter says believers should recognize that we are speaking and serving directly on behalf of God to others, while He gives the ability and strength for us to do so. And when we direct glory towards Him instead of accepting it for ourselves, we stand out from the crowd of those who glorify only themselves. And that difference in our lives causes people to examine the life-changing nature of a relationship with Jesus Christ. It validates our faith in front of others.


Wednesday, February 17, 2016


We cannot remain anonymous in our faith forever. God has a way of flushing us out of our quiet little places, and when He does we must be ready to speak for Him. 1 Peter 3:15 says, "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have."

-- Lee Eclov


Tuesday, February 16, 2016


"Long for the pure milk of the Word, that by it you may grow…"  (1 Peter 2:2 NASB)

Far beyond your highest hopes, God wants you, as His son or daughter, to live an attractive life that is competent and full of meaning. And like all of us, you still fall short of what He has in mind for you. More than you know (and perhaps in different ways than you think), sin has retarded and warped your personality. It keeps you from being all that you were meant to be.

No matter how much you have grown, God is not content for you to remain as you are; and no matter how little you have grown, He has not given up on you. He wants to liberate you more and more from any inner chains that bind you and deform you -- chains of hostility or resentment, of self-blame or regrets, of anxiety or fear, chains of inferior or superior feelings. His plan includes making you over into His image, beautifying you with a moral excellence far beyond your potential as a mere human.

"He made you into a polished arrow." (Isaiah 49:2 NIV) George Swinnock once noted, "We know that sticks are by nature not arrows… By nature they are rough, but by careful workmanship they become smooth and straight."

-- Warren and Ruth Myers in Discovering God's Will


Monday, February 15, 2016


Why is it so hard for us to believe that God's love really is unconditional and that we should imitate God's love not only for others, but also for ourselves?

Perhaps we have regarded self-centered behavior too harshly.  We are unwilling or unable to give ourselves the same gentle grace that God offers us and that we believe should be offered to others.  Leap from doubt to belief and remember that God loves you, delights in you, and yearns for your response.

-- Rueben P. Job & Norman  Shawchuck in A Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God  (Nashville, Tenn.: Upper Room Books, 2003)


Friday, February 12, 2016


Daniel Webster, a 19th century lawyer and statesman, was courting his wife-to-be, Grace Fletcher. As he held skeins of silk thread for her, he suggested, "Grace, we've been engaged in untying knots; let us see if we can tie a knot which will not untie for a lifetime." They stopped right then and tied a random silk knot that would be almost impossible to untie. Grace accepted Webster's proposal.

After they passed from this world, their children found a little box marked "Precious Documents." Among the contents were letters of courtship and a tiny silk knot -- one that had never been untied.

Those who know the love of Jesus can boldly say, "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38,39).

-- Jim Bassett, quoting from Clifton Fadiman's The Little Brown Book of Anecdotes


Thursday, February 11, 2016


Jesus said, "The time is coming -- indeed it's here now -- when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship Him that way."  (John 4:23 NLT)

Worship is an act of obedience of the heart. It is a response that requires the very core of who you are, to love the Lord for who He is, not just for what He does. Worship is more than singing beautiful songs in church on a Sunday. It is more than instruments and music. As a true worshiper, your heart will long to worship Him at all times, in all ways, and with all your life.

-- Darlene Zschech, Hillsong Church, Australia


Wednesday, February 10, 2016


"Incline Your ear to me, rescue me quickly; be to me a Rock of Strength." (Psalm 31:2)

When we take a tumble and cry out to God in our shame and distress, the psalmist says God "inclines His ear" to us. He bends over to listen. We say, "Oh, Father, I've failed! I've failed terribly. Look at what I've done!" And then God puts His arms around us, just as a loving earthly father would do. He then says, "I accept you just as you are. I acknowledge that what you have done was wrong, as you've confessed it to Me. Now, My son, My daughter, let's move on."

-- Charles Swindoll in Bedside Blessings


Tuesday, February 9, 2016


"Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect." (Romans 12: 2 NLT)

God accepts us as we are, but longs for us to become more. When we learn to cooperate with Him and seek His will as the supreme good of our lives, then we can believe what He already believes about us -- that we can be vastly more than we are. We need not forever be the victims of our earlier conditioning. God has put within us the power to change, to overcome our handicaps, and to grow.

-- Adapted from Cecil Osborne in The Art of Understanding Yourself


Monday, February 8, 2016


This past Sunday is a hinge for us. With this week, we move from Epiphany into Lent -- going literally from the mountaintop into the desert.

The mountaintop is much more comfortable and the pull to stay there is incredible. But the desert is where Christ leads us. Christ leads us there because that’s where so many of our sisters and brothers whom He loves live. Christ leads us there because our common destiny is as partners in this mission of God.

Christ leads us down the mountain and into the desert, because the true transfiguration, the true shining forth of God in all God’s glory happens when we follow Him there together.

-- Michael D. Kinman


Friday, February 5, 2016


There is a story told about a man who was accused of some wrongdoing and was brought before a judge. When the judge asked if he had an attorney to represent him, the man answered, "No, I can't afford one."

The judge replied, "Well, don't worry about that.  I'll appoint a lawyer to represent you, and I will choose a real good one."

"I appreciate that, Judge," answered the man.  "But if you really want to appoint somebody to help me, what I need most is not a real good lawyer, but several real good witnesses!"

And that's what God wants too, isn't it?  Some good witnesses!  Will you step forward and volunteer for that job?  That's our calling as Christians -- to be God's witnesses.  Let's define the term.  A good witness is one who knows something firsthand, one who has seen or heard or experienced something.  A good witness is one who can bring the truth to light.

--  James W. Moore in When You're a Christian, the Whole World is from Missouri


Thursday, February 4, 2016


The Christian's greatest goal is to be like Christ. We want to emulate His exemplary life, model His method of teaching, resist temptation as He resisted it, handle conflicts as He did, focus on the mission God calls us to accomplish as Christ focused on His. And certainly it is our desire to commune with the Father as the Son did throughout His ministry and suffering. No greater compliment can be given than this one: "When I am with that person, it's like I'm in the presence of Jesus Himself."

-- Charles Swindoll in Bedside Blessings


Wednesday, February 3, 2016


A Sunday school teacher once had two new boys in class.  When she asked their ages and birth dates for registration, the blond boy said, "We're both seven.  My birthday is April 8, 1976, and my brother's is April 20,1976."  "That's impossible!" blurted the confused woman.  The dark-haired boy piped in, "No, it's not,.  One of us is adopted."  Before she could stop herself, the teacher asked, "Which one?"  The boys looked at each other and said, "We asked Dad a long time ago, but he just said he loved us both and couldn't remember which one was adopted."

God has only one begotten Son -- the rest of us have been adopted.  Your heavenly Father has not only adopted you but also completely accepted you in the Beloved.  Your all-powerful, all-knowing heavenly Father has chosen to forget your past.  He sees you just as He does His only begotten Son.  You have become a coheir with Christ.  You can now call the almighty God your Father.  "You should behave instead like God's very own children adopted into His family -- calling Him "Father, dear Father'"  (Romans 8:15 NLT).

-- Lenya Heitzig and Penny Pierce Rose in Pathway to God's Treasure: Ephesians


Tuesday, February 2, 2016


Most of us want God to let us know what to expect around the next corner or in the upcoming week. We want to know what's coming so that we can insert it in our mental day planners. And if God doesn't come through for us, then we're filled with fear and trembling, or even some anger. We say to ourselves, "Doesn't God know how important it is that I know how such-and-such will go?" Oddly enough, we're always surprised when we discover that God is more concerned with our faith and trust in Him than whether we know how the boss will like our latest marketing plan.

-- Matt Donnelly, Christianity On-Line


Monday, February 1, 2016


"Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully." [Psalm 55:22 Amplified]

It's not hard to have faith when all of our bills are being paid and our kids are healthy and our marriage is intact. It's not hard to have faith when God gives us everything we want. The true test of faith comes when circumstances are difficult, when our train of hope gets derailed.

-- Max Lucado