Friday, December 29, 2017


Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense. This day is all that is good and fair. It is too dear, with its hopes and invitations, to waste a moment on yesterdays.

-- Ralph Waldo Emerson


Wednesday, December 27, 2017


“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  (John 1:1 & 14 NIV)

The Word did not become a philosophy, a theory, or a concept to be discussed, debated, or pondered. But the Word became a person to be followed, enjoyed, and loved!

-- DaySpring Cards


Tuesday, December 26, 2017


All Hail! Lord, we greet Thee,
Born this happy morning,
O Jesus! for evermore be Thy name adored.
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.  (“O Come All Ye Faithful”)

Jesus Christ -- His love we can experience; His salvation we can appropriate; His help we can claim; but their remains in Him the divine mystery of the Incarnation, which is beyond our understanding, and before which we can only worship and adore.

-- William Barclay (1907-1978) in “The Revelation of John” (Vol.II)


Friday, December 22, 2017


“Yet to all who did receive [Christ], to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.”  (John 1:12 NIV)

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”  (Colossians 2:6-7 NIV)

You can never truly enjoy Christmas until you can look up into the Father’s face and tell Him you have received His Christmas gift.

-- John R. Rice


Thursday, December 21, 2017


“Good Christian friends, rejoice, with heart and soul and voice;
now ye need not fear the grave: News, news! Jesus Christ was born to save!
Calls you one and calls you all to gain His everlasting hall.
Christ was born to save, Christ was born to save!

Rejoice, you who feel that you are lost; your Savior comes to seek and save you. Be of good cheer, you who are in prison, for He comes to set you free. You who are famished and ready to die, rejoice that He has consecrated for you a Bethlehem, a House of Bread, and He has come to be the Bread of Life to your souls. Rejoice, O sinners everywhere, for the restorer of the castaways, the Savior of the fallen, is born.

-- C.H. Spurgeon in “Joy Born at Bethlehem”


Wednesday, December 20, 2017


“We know that the Son of God has come, and He has given us understanding so that we can know the true God. And now we live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and He is eternal life.”  (1 John 5:20 NLT)

“True God of True God, Light of Light Eternal,
Lo, He shuns not the Virgin’s womb.
Son of the Father, begotten not created,
O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.”  (“O Come, All Ye Faithful”)

Virtual is truly the word of the day. The first synonym for virtual that comes up in my dictionary is "near."… "Virtual" is a substitute for the real thing. The antonym (opposite) that came up for "virtual" is "actual." Put these two together and you have "virtual" as something that appears close to the real thing but in actuality is so far off the mark that there couldn't be anything farther from the truth. "Virtual" is like a moon shot that misses the moon. The farther it travels in the universe, the farther away from its destination it becomes, making "virtual reality" the quintessential oxymoron…

When John the Apostle talked about Christ he found it necessary to point out that he and the other disciples had had physical contact with Jesus. "We proclaim to you the One who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw Him with our own eyes and touched Him with our own hands." (1 John 1:1). It was important to John for us to know this. Nothing virtual here. This was the real thing. The true God.

-- adapted from John Fischer in “Purpose Driven Life Daily Devotionals"


Tuesday, December 19, 2017


“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the LORD.”  (Luke 2:11 NIV)

In your searching may you find the gift of the warm embrace and acceptance of the Father. In that embrace and acceptance may you find the gift of the freedom and the path of the Son. In that freedom and path may you find the gift of the guidance and strength of the Holy Spirit. In the birth of the Babe in a manger may you find the gift of the Savior of the cross.

“And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent His Son to be the Savior of the world.”  (1 John 4:14 NIV)

-- Rev. David T. Wilkinson


Monday, December 18, 2017


“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:10)

When I think of the various spiritual gifts that God has given believers, I can’t help but think that the church is much like a Christmas tree with all the nicely wrapped packages. There is great joy in picking out just the right gift and knowing that the person to whom it will be given will need and appreciate it. How would you feel, though, if you entered your friend's home weeks after Christmas and found the gift that you had given them still unopened? Wouldn’t it make you feel bad if you heard a friend of yours complaining about an unmet need in their life, and yet you knew that you had given them a gift to take care of that need but they had simply not yet opened it?

That must surely be how the Holy Spirit feels at times, as He overhears the people complaining about unmet needs; needs that He gifted the church to be able to meet. When it comes to spiritual gifts… unopened packages equal undiscovered gifts equal unused gifts equal unfulfilled Christians equal impoverished churches equal churchianity (the religious counterfeit of Christianity).

The gifts God has given each of us were meant to be used.

-- Author Unknown


Friday, December 15, 2017


“This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the LORD appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save his people from their sins.’"  (Matthew 1:18-21)

It is impossible to conceive how different things would have turned out if Christ’s birth had not happened whenever, wherever, however it did … For millions of people who have lived since, the birth of Jesus made possible not just a new way of understanding life but a new way of living it. It is a truth that, for twenty centuries, there have been untold numbers of men and women who, in untold numbers of ways, have been so grasped by the Child who was born, so caught up in the message He taught and the life He lived, that they have found themselves profoundly changed by their relationship with Him.

-- Frederick Buechner


Thursday, December 14, 2017


"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.  Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval.."  (Hebrews 11:1-2 NRSV)

Hebrews 11 has been called the great faith chapter. What, exactly, is faith? If it is so important to the redemptive process, we must have a clear understanding of its nature.

The need is supplied in verses 1-2.  Faith, according to the NIV text, is always two things:  (1) a sense of assurance within us (being sure of what we hope for) and (2) a certainty that there are realities which we cannot see with our physical eyes (certain of what we do not see)…

Paul, in Colossians 1:5, sees faith and love flowing out of the hope awakened by the gospel. Hope, which “springs eternal in the human breast,” comes first. Then, faith sees freedom from sin on the basis of Christ’s sacrifice, a consequent loving relationship to God, peace with one’s neighbors and joy in the midst of life (all what we hope for). These realities, though invisible, are personally appropriated; as a result, love for both God and others flows from the sense of gratitude which faith has awakened. Thus, the famous triumvirate of “faith, hope, and love” are central to all Christian living.

-- Ray C. Stedman in “Hebrews: The IVP New Testament Commentary Series”


Wednesday, December 13, 2017


"You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised."  (Hebrews 10:36)

God's promised blessings can be nipped in the bud. For their fulfillment resembles the blooming of a rose. The bud forms, hard and small and green, nothing particularly attractive. Yet, bound tightly inside are the forming petals, soft and red and delicate. The petals grow unseen. Only later as the rose blooms do we see their beauty. So it is with God's work. His perfect plans for us are forming in the bud -- [hidden] -- and as we persevere, we will, in God's perfect time, see them blossom.

-- Craig Brian Larson


Tuesday, December 12, 2017


“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”  (Luke 2:11 NIV)

So God throws open the door of this world -- and enters as a baby. As the most vulnerable imaginable. Because He wants unimaginable intimacy with you. What religion ever had a God that wanted such intimacy with us that He came with such vulnerability to us? What God ever came so tender we could touch Him? So fragile that we could break Him? So vulnerable that His bare, beating heart could be hurt? Only the One who loves you to death.

-- Ann Voskamp


Monday, December 11, 2017


“The gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world -- just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.”  (Colossians 1:6b-8 NIV)

One of the prerequisites for being a servant of God is to think like a servant.  This would be fine if it wasn't so hard.  We are all naturally wired to think only of ourselves.

Learning to give preference to others is one of the true marks of a Christian because it is so contrary to human nature.  That's why desiring it comes from God, and doing it comes through the Holy Spirit…

Thinking like a servant doesn't automatically make you one, but it goes a long way toward getting you there.  If you are thinking like a servant, you are noticing others; and the more you are aware of others, the more the Holy Spirit can use you in reaching out to them.  All this increases the opportunity for the gospel; people are simply not used to being served...

Ask God to help you think like a servant today, and who knows?  Maybe you'll get a chance to be one.

-- John Fischer in THE PURPOSE-DRIVEN® LIFE Daily Devotional, September 2, 2004


Friday, December 8, 2017


"All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right.  It is God's way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do."  (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NLT)

God's Word does not always fall in line with our own desires. Paul speaks of people who go astray "to suit their own desires" (2 Timothy 4:3). We are immature if we think we, as Christians, will always be happy and joyous with every message from God. Rather, we must admit that sometimes our ego and feelings get hurt. We must acknowledge that we too need correction from God and that as we study His Word our desires may have to change.

-- Pastor Gary Stone


Thursday, December 7, 2017


"The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…" (1 Timothy 1:15 NRSV)

People do not talk much about sin these days. The psychiatrist's couch has replaced the mourners' bench for many people, and obedience to a higher moral authority has given way to doing your own thing. Yet we are not at peace. We suffer from a feeling of alienation -- spiritual disease -- from which we yearn for deliverance. We may call it many things; the Bible calls it sin.

If there is no higher authority to whom we might be disobedient, then, of course the idea of sin becomes nonsense. But if there is a Creator who so wants our love to the extent that God demonstrates in Jesus Christ, then sin cannot be brushed away by calling it something else…

The One born in Bethlehem's manger comes to show us what and who we ought to be and to take from us the burdens of unbelief and hardheartedness from which we cannot unburden ourselves. Jesus sets us free from sin.

-- Robert Luccock in “Come to the Cradle”


Wednesday, December 6, 2017


Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the LORD and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11-13 NIV)

You have it easily in your power to increase the sum total of this world's happiness now. How? By giving a few words of sincere appreciation to someone who could really use it. It may be someone who is lonely or discouraged. It may be your spouse, your pastor, the nurse who cared for you, the clerk at the store, your Bible study leader, the waitstaff at the restaurant, or your child’s teacher. Perhaps you will forget tomorrow the kind words you say today, but the recipient may cherish them over a lifetime.

-- Adapted from Dale Carnegie


Tuesday, December 5, 2017


For God in all His fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through Him God reconciled everything to Himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.” (Colossians 1:19-20 NLT)

The Christmas story once again reminds us that peace has already come to this earth. "For a Child is born to us, a Son is given to us. The government will rest on His shoulders. And He will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6  NLT).

Our Prince of Peace arrived more than 2000 years ago, not with chariots and weapons blazing, but humbly as a baby in a manger. Throughout Jesus' life on earth, He demonstrated to us a love so strong that it culminated in His sacrifice on a bloodstained cross.

-- John LaRue,


Monday, December 4, 2017


“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable -- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy -- think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me -- put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”  (Philippians 4:8-10 NIV)

You are the books you read, the movies you watch, the music you listen to, the people you spend time with, the conversations you engage in. Choose wisely what you feed your mind.

-- Author Unknown


Friday, December 1, 2017


Strange as it might seem, one of the greatest gifts that we can give to each other in a family is high expectations.  Parents ought to have high expectations of their children, and children ought to have high expectations of their parents.  Husbands and wives ought to have high expectations of each other, even as God has high expectations for all of His children.  "Therefore, I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling." (Ephesians 4:1 NLT).  The high expectations that we have of each other call out of us the best that we have.  We become good people and faithful family members, in part, because we are expected to be so.  All of us tend to try to measure up to what the significant others in our lives expect us to be.  The high expectations of those we love are responsible for much of the good that we find in ourselves.

-- Tony Campolo in “Following Jesus Without Embarrassing God”


Thursday, November 30, 2017


What is this ingredient that determines whether relationships are positive or negative -- the ingredient that is critical to relationships' success, health and prosperity?  What is the element that leads individuals to lasting commitment?  Is there a special "something" that makes the difference?  If so, what is it?

It is grace.

Grace is the defining attraction in any significant, meaningful relationship.  Grace is the bonding agent that allows vibrant life to flow from one individual to another.  Grace is the New Testament word that defines our relationship with our Lord.  The apostle Paul said that we "stand" in this grace (Romans 5:2).  Our Lord's heart of grace opened the treasure vaults of heaven and invited us to receive all of heaven's blessings that flow from this bottomless source of love. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”  (Ephesians 1:3)

-- Dr. Norm Wakefield & Jody Brolsma in “Men Are from Israel, Women Are from Moab”


Wednesday, November 29, 2017


"The fruit of the Spirit," which is in those who live in Christ's Spirit, "is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23). An old legend tells of people who came wanting to buy the fruit of the Spirit. They were told, "We don't sell the fruit; we sell the seeds." Indeed, these traits of the holy life are not forced, not strived for, certainly not bought. Rather, they grow out of the believer's heart. They grow out of the indwelling presence of Jesus, the promised Holy Spirit.

-- U.M. Bishop Richard Wilke in “DISCIPLE: Becoming Disciples Through Bible Study”


Tuesday, November 28, 2017


“We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”  (2 Corinthians 10:5b NIV)

One of the greatest revelations of my life is: I can choose my thoughts and think things on purpose. In other words, I don’t have to just think about whatever falls into my mind. This was a life-changing revelation for me because as Proverbs 23:7 (AMP) says, “As [a person] thinks in his heart, so is he.” I like to say it like this: Where the mind goes, the [person] follows.

Now God is concerned about the hidden [person] of the heart, which is our inner life. Our inner life is what we think about. And like the scripture above says, the way we think determines how we live and who we are. That’s why we need to think about what we’re thinking about.

It’s so important for us to understand this because if we don’t learn how to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (see 2 Corinthians 10:4-5), we won’t live the life Jesus died to give us – a life of peace with God, peace with ourselves, great relationships, real joy and the ability to become all God has created us to be. It comes down to choosing to believe what God says (the truth) more than we believe our feelings, what other people say or our circumstances.

-- Joyce Meyer, from her Everyday Answers blog


Monday, November 27, 2017


“For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”  (2 Corinthians 5:21 NLT)

When we trust in Christ, we make an exchange: He takes our sin and makes us right with God. Our sin was laid on Christ at His crucifixion. His righteousness was given to us at our conversion. This is what Christians mean by Christ’s atonement for sin.

In the world, bartering works when two people exchange goods of relatively equal value. But God offers to trade His righteousness for our sin – something of immeasurable worth for something completely worthless. How grateful we should be for His kindness to us!

-- from “The Life Application Study Bible”


Wednesday, November 22, 2017


“When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  (1 Corinthians 15:54-57 NRSV)

In “A Grief Observed” -- reflecting on the loss of his wife, Joy, due to cancer -- C. S. Lewis wrote, “How often -- will it be for always? -- how often will the vast emptiness astonish me like a complete novelty and make me say, ‘I never realized my loss till this moment’? The same leg is cut off time after time. The first plunge of the knife into the flesh is felt again and again.”

It’s normal -- and healthy -- to grieve when those we love are taken from us. But in 1 Corinthians 15, Paul explains why the resurrection of Jesus matters so much to those who believe [in Christ]: This earthly chapter is not the end of this eternal story; the pain of death will one day be only a memory.

When we leave our physical bodies behind at death, we’ll be ushered into God’s presence, where we’ll feel His healing embrace. We’ll be enveloped by His all-consuming love. And suddenly, in the light of God’s face, and in the face of His passion for us, all our questions, our grief -- and our sorrows -- will all fade away. Thanks be to God.

--  adapted from the “New Women’s Devotional Bible”


Tuesday, November 21, 2017


"Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?  For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's." (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

The Christian should honor and care for his/her body as the very sanctuary of God.  We no longer belong to ourselves, but to God, who purchased us as a prized possession through the gracious giving of His Son.

-- from “Believer's Study Bible”


Monday, November 20, 2017


"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."  (Romans 15:3)

When tragedy strikes, when trouble comes, when life disappoints us, we stand at the crossroads between hope and despair, torn and hurting.

Despair cements us in the present. Hope sends us dancing around dark corners trusting in a tomorrow we cannot see because of the multiple pasts of life which we cannot forget.

-- Joan D. Chittister, quoted in “Hope: It’s More Than Wishful Thinking”


Friday, November 17, 2017


As I monitor my mind, I will encounter many thoughts that are unwelcome visitors:  I get anxious.  I catastrophize.  I envy.  But I will also begin to recognize what kind of thoughts the Spirit flows in.  The apostle Paul gives us a great framework for understanding which are the thoughts and attitudes that come from the Spirit.  He writes, “The mind controlled by the sinful nature is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6)

Take any thought, especially thoughts that feel weighty or that you find yourself turning over and over in your mind, and ask, What direction do those thoughts lead me in?  Are they leading me toward life -- toward God’s best version of me?  Or in the other direction?

-- John Ortberg in “The Me I Want To Be”


Thursday, November 16, 2017


“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”  (Romans 6:23 NLT)

In 1830, George Wilson was tried by the U.S. court in Philadelphia for robbery and murder and was sentenced to hang. Andrew Jackson, President of the United States, granted him a presidential pardon. But Wilson refused the pardon, insisting it was not a pardon unless he accepted it. The question was brought before the U.S. Supreme Court, and Chief Justice John Marshall wrote the following decision: “A pardon is a paper, the value of which depends upon its acceptance by the person implicated. It’s hardly to be supposed that one under sentence of death would refuse a pardon, but if refused, it is no pardon. George Wilson must hang.” What was the outcome? George Wilson was hanged.

Jesus Christ is God’s only provision for our sin. Through Him alone we can know God intimately, be fully pardoned for our sin, experience His unconditional love, and have eternal life. We simply must accept the free gift.

-- adapted from “Remember the Rowboats” by Jim and Barbara Grunseth


Wednesday, November 15, 2017


“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,...” (Romans 3:23 NIV)

Bob Harbick once noted that “Sin… blinds and deafens the human heart from ever enjoying the incredible goodness of Jesus Christ… Sin is defined as missing the mark of Jesus Christ. It is the process of taking careful aim with our lives, releasing our arrow of life and having it fall woefully short of the target that Jesus has established for you and me to live. Sin is broken fellowship with the King of kings and Lord of lords. It separates us from enjoying all that He had intended for our lives.”

What is happening in the world today is that instead of acknowledging our sin -- that we are missing the mark -- and turning to Christ our Savior, we are lowering the target to where our arrow falls and exclaiming “Bullseye!”

-- Rev. David T. Wilkinson


Tuesday, November 14, 2017


Dwight L. Moody once said, "Of one hundred men, one will read the Bible; the ninety-nine will read the Christian."

What do your pages say, then? Do they talk about nice-guy Nate who helps his next-door neighbor?… Do they focus on good-person Gertrude who gives to Goodwill?… Do they talk about pleasant Peter and his wife Penny who preach about their passion for petunias?

Or are your pages filled with stories of self-less caring in the name of the suffering Christ?… Or are they exploding with the excitement of personally knowing Jesus?… Or, as each page is turned, are they pointing to the One who saved you from your sin -- the Savior, God's Son?

What do your pages say to a world that is lost and lonely, hungry and hurting, and desperately in need of a Savior?

"For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes -- Jew first and also Gentiles. This Good News tells us how God makes us right in His sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, 'It is through faith that a righteous person has life'." (Romans 1:16-17 NLT)

-- Rev. David T. Wilkinson


Monday, November 13, 2017


Have you ever put heart and soul into something, prayed over it, worked at it with a good heart because you believed it to be what God wanted, and finally seen it "run aground"?

The story of Paul's voyage as a prisoner across the Adriatic Sea tells how an angel stood beside him and told him not to be afraid (in spite of winds of hurricane force), for God would spare his life and the lives of all with him on board ship. Paul cheered his guards and fellow-passengers with that word, but added, "Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island" (Acts 27:26).

It would seem that the God who promises to spare all hands might have "done the job right", saved the ship as well, and spared them the ignominy of having to make it to land on the flotsam and jetsam that was left. The fact is He did not, nor does He always spare us.

Heaven is not here, it's There. If we were given all we wanted here, our hearts would settle for this world rather than the next. God is forever luring us up and away from this one, wooing us to Himself and His still invisible Kingdom where we will certainly find what we so keenly long for.

"Running aground", then, is not "the end of the world". But it helps to "Lead us not into temptation" -- the temptation complacently to settle for visible things.

-- Elisabeth Elliot in “The Elisabeth Elliot Newsletter”, Sep/Oct 1988


Friday, November 10, 2017


“Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia.”  (Acts 16:6 NIV)

We don’t know how the Holy Spirit told Paul that he and his companions should not go into Asia. It may have been through a prophet, a vision, an inner conviction, or some other circumstance. To know God’s will does not mean we need to hear His voice. He leads in different ways. When seeking God’s will, (1) make sure your plan is in harmony with God’s will; (2) ask mature Christians for their advice;  (3) check your own motives -- are you seeking to do what you want or what you think God wants? -- and (4) pray for God to open and close the doors as He desires. 

-- from “The Life Application Study Bible”


Thursday, November 9, 2017


Prayer is to the soul what exercise is to the body. A man who is in good spiritual shape does two things: (1) He consistently eats the nutritious diet of the Scriptures and (2) he consistently spends time in aerobic kneeling. (It's also known as prayer.) These two elements must go together. A marathon runner not only trains efficiently but also eats correctly. Both enable him to have physical endurance. The same is true in the Christian life... Without a diet of Scripture and an exercise routine of prayer, you've got nothing. You can't finish the Christian marathon without them. In fact, you can't even begin.

-- Steve Farrar in “UMMen Magazine”, Spring 1999


Wednesday, November 8, 2017


Jesus said, “I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it sees Him not, neither knows Him: but you know Him; for He dwells with you, and shall be in you.”  (John 14:16,17)

The word "Comforter" as applied to the Holy Spirit needs to be translated by some vigorous term. Literally, it means "with strength."  Jesus promised His followers that "The Strengthener" would be with them forever.  This promise is no lullaby for the faint-hearted. It is a blood transfusion for courageous living.

-- E. Paul Hovey


Tuesday, November 7, 2017


“Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the LORD added to their number daily those who were being saved.”  (Acts 2:41-47 NIV)

What a scene! Here in ancient Jerusalem was a group of believers [in Christ] whose worship was spontaneous, whose instruction was substantial, whose fellowship was genuine, and whose expressions were compassionate. No wonder so many new folks were attracted! It is no surprise to me that the Lord added to their number day after day…

When we embrace these objectives, several benefits come our way. Our eyes will get off ourselves and unto the Lord. Our own petty differences are minimized, which deepens the unity of the relationship. And all this, when kept in balance, creates such a magnetism that the church becomes irresistible. And then? Well, then we start becoming what the church was originally designed to be -- irresistible!

-- Charles Swindoll in “The Bride -- Renewing Our Passion For The Church”


Monday, November 6, 2017


Therefore Jesus said again, "Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through Me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  (John 10:7-10 NIV)

If you are familiar with the “I am” passages in the Gospels, then you probably remember this verse as the “I am the door” passage. I wondered why the modern translators changed this to “gate”? Perhaps because the Greek word has its root in a word that means “to rush in; properly, that through which a rush is made.” Thus, in the context of sheep and shepherd, it seems appropriate to think of a gate. And when Jesus completed this saying with the promise, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full”; this gate or door should be one that we want to rush through.

-- Rev. Kenneth A. Mortonson in “What Do You See?”


Friday, November 3, 2017


When I was a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison I would traverse the famed Bascom Hill on my way to classes. One day I walked past the Law School and noticed something that surprised me. There, engraved in stone on the corner of the building, were these words, "You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free. -- John 8:32". I thought how nice it was for them to include a verse from Scripture. My conclusion was that if I go to that school I will gain this truth that will set me free.

Being a new Christian at the time, my curiosity got to me. I wondered in what context this verse was said, and by whom. I looked it up and found that Jesus was the one speaking and it was to a group of believers. John 8:31 and 32 (RSV) says, "Jesus then said to the Jews who had believed in Him, 'If you continue in My Word, you are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free'."

Dr. Os Guinness, in a video called "What If Jesus Had Never Been Born?", stated that "Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Dartmouth, and Brown were all [originally] explicitly rooted in the Christian faith, and many of them with very open desires to spread and share the Christian faith, and their mottos show it. The most common motto in all the American universities is, 'The truth shall set you free,' but many people forget that that came from Jesus."

True freedom comes from knowing Jesus Christ and continuing in His Word.

-- Rev. David T. Wilkinson


Thursday, November 2, 2017


"Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city.  She said to the people, 'Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done!  He cannot be the Messiah, can He?' They left the city and were on their way to Him."  (John 4:28-30)

How do you start a church?  At the turn of the twentieth century, as the late William Hyde recalled, it was simple.  As a young Methodist preacher, Hyde was taken by train to a small town in Nebraska.  He was told that there was one Methodist in the community, but that he had probably become a Presbyterian, that there was a second-floor hall that could no doubt be rented for a gathering place.  And then, as the train pulled from the station, the district superintendent called out a simple formula for beginning a church: "Dig or die, Brother Hyde!"

In our day, church planting has become a science.  Some progressive seminaries offer special programs, even doctoral studies, in church planting.  Statisticians can project how many thousand telephone calls will produce how many hundred in attendance at an opening service, and what mass mailings will appeal to what segments of a population, as well as the type of music, the style of worship, and the level of preaching that will be most effective in a given community.

I confess that I fall somewhere between these two very different methods.  The unreconstructed grump in me favors the first, while the researcher in me opts for the second.  But on one thing, I am sure.  If I were starting a church, I know the person I would want for my first member.  I don't know her name, but I know everything else about her, and I can tell you this: Give me this wild and wonderful woman, and with God's help I will soon have a thriving body of believers.

-- J. Ellsworth Kalas in “New Testament Stories from the Back Side”


Wednesday, November 1, 2017


“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made.”  (John 1:1-3)

The archetype of one who takes initiative is God Himself.  He created the heavens and the earth, spinning into motion the tiny sphere that is our planet.  He filled its waters and skies with fish and fowl and scattered all manner of living creatures across its mountains, valleys and plains.  Then He lovingly spoke humankind into being, calling man and woman to name the animals, to tend to the garden sprawled at their feet and to live in loving community with one another.

But then He watched as man and woman disobeyed Him, dishonored themselves and destroyed each other with hatred and lies and murder.  He watched His creation spiral deeper and deeper into sin; He felt the searing pain as those made in His very image pulled away from Him, breaking the bonds of love that had bound creature to Creator.  How easy it would have been for Him to yield to despair and to close His eyes to the ugly ruin His creation had become.

But what did He do?  He responded with love and with a plan. He provided an option.  He took the initiative in breaching the gap between Himself and His wayward creation.  "For God so loved the world" -- and longed to have it reconciled to Himself -- "that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."  (John 3:16).

God could have sat idly by and watched the world go to hell.  But love demanded that He take the initiative to redeem it instead.  So He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, as a sin sacrifice for your foul-ups and mine, thereby making forgiveness available as a free gift.  We need only to humble ourselves enough to receive it.

-- Bill Hybels in “Making Life Work: Putting God's Wisdom into Action”


Tuesday, October 31, 2017


"One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at Him: 'Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!'  But the other criminal rebuked him. 'Don’t you fear God,' he said, 'since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.'  Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your Kingdom. '  Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.'"  (Luke 23:39-43 NIV)

Jesus' response to this career criminal is absolutely fascinating to me.  Without an ounce of deliberation, He gave grace to the guy.  "Today you will be with Me in My Kingdom," He told the repentant.

Friends, that is the model.  The same propensity to give grace in all situations ought to be true of your life and of mine.  If we share the dream to become radically loving, outwardly focused, grace-giving people, then we ought to be the first ones to expand our hearts and invite folks to come into the kingdom.

-- Bill Hybels in “Just Walk Across the Room”


Monday, October 30, 2017


“Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but He died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but He was raised to life in the Spirit.”  (1 Peter 3:18 NLT)

The Gospels are like a tapestry, woven together with two incredible points: the immeasurable value of each person and the unimaginable depth of God's grace.

-- Max Lucado


Friday, October 27, 2017


"Give, and it will be given to you.  A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.  For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." (Luke 6:38)

I believe in the law of measures. If you give big, God will bless big.  That certainly doesn't mean that you can play God like a slot machine, but if you give for the right reasons, I'm convinced of this: You'll never outgive God.  It's not possible because God has promised that in the grand scheme of eternity, He will always give back more than you gave up.

-- Mark Batterson in “The Circle Maker"


Thursday, October 26, 2017


“Every time I think of you, I always pray for you with a heart full of joy...” (Philippians 1:3-5)

We acknowledge the gift of Your servants to the work of ministry; called in their weakness and strengthened by Your Spirit. May we support them with our love and prayers…

It is by Your love and grace that we are given pastors to preach the gospel. We thank You for the boldness with which they call us to repentance. They hold before us the truth of Your Word which strengthens our faith and gives us a sure hope for the glorious coming of Your kingdom. As they impart Your Word to us, be their joy and their inspiration.

In Your infinite wisdom You have given us shepherds to lead and guide us. Bless them with discernment and integrity as they instruct and counsel us to be obedient and faithful to Your Word. As they prepare us for works of service, inspire them with Your vision for the church and instill in each of us a profound longing to be the people You desire us to be. Make them powerful in prayer, fervent in their desires, and committed to Your will as they embrace this great privilege.


-- Excerpted from “God Gave Some to Be... Pastors: A service of prayer, gratitude, and encouragement for pastors” by Sharon Postma


Wednesday, October 25, 2017


“Don't judge other people, and you will not be judged.  Don't accuse others of being guilty, and you will not be accused of being guilty.  Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”  (Luke 6:37)

Go back to the Cross and see how God through the Cross forgives us: that gives us strength to forgive each other.  We have a mandate to forgive, a liberating concept that says you have a choice.  You don't have to live with anger or resentment -- you can get rid of it.  It is possible to forgive -- through prayer and the Holy Spirit, it is possible!

-- Max Lucado


Tuesday, October 24, 2017


“Here am I, the servant of the Lord,” Mary said. “Let it be with me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)

I have been collecting icons for a few years now, and one that hangs prominently in my office depicts Mary holding the Child Jesus. The icon is titled with the Greek word that the Eastern Orthodox churches use to describe her: Theotokos, which means “God-bearer.” That is a perfect description of what Mary did in giving her consent to the divine mission she was being offered. In saying yes to God, she became the God-bearer, allowing her person to be the means of bringing the life of God into the world…

Like her ancestor Abraham, God favored Mary -- an ordinary girl in an ordinary place -- and blessed her so she might be a blessing to the world, a vital link in the covenant chain that God had begun with Abraham generations before (Genesis 12:2). God’s favor is not something we earn; it is something we receive as a gift, but a gift that must always be shared.

This story challenges those of us who have received the gift of a relationship with Jesus to be God-bearers to the rest of the world, believing that God’s grace always comes to us on its way to someone else. We bear the Christ, we share God’s grace, and we change the world when we take on Mary’s attitude of service and surrender. We would do well to memorize and use her response as we move about in the world every day.

-- Robert Kaylor in “Come to the Manger”