Friday, June 30, 2017


Did you know that Psalm 118 is the middle of the entire Bible? Psalm 117, before Psalm 118, is the shortest chapter in the Bible. Psalm 119, after Psalm 118, is the longest chapter in the Bible. The Bible has 594 chapters before Psalm 118 and 594 chapters after Psalm 118. If you add up all the chapters except Psalm 118, you get a total of 1188 Chapters. Psalm 118 verse 8 is the middle verse of the entire Bible. Should the central verse then not have an important message? No matter how you look at it, this should be a central verse in our lives! "It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to rely on human beings." (Psalm 118:8)

-- Unknown


Thursday, June 29, 2017


Almighty Father, You who are called the "Mighty Umpire" in this game of life, we are not sure what uniforms we should wear. While we may be Angels in spirit, in reality we are Giants of pride, Dodgers of responsibility and Tigers in ambition. When it comes to faith, we find ourselves in the minor leagues. When it comes to good works, we strike out; when it comes to knowledge of Your Word, we are not sure of the ground rules.

Therefore, we are thankful for Your mercy when we find ourselves in foul territory; for Your forgiveness when we commit one error after another; for Your uplifting Spirit when we find ourselves in the pitfalls of a slump.

Dear God, may our game plan be Your will, and our response a sellout crowd with standing room only. And, when our number is retired here on earth, may we rejoice to hear You call out, "SAFE!" in His name who gives final victory to all who believe! Amen.

-- Unknown


Wednesday, June 28, 2017


“They were hungry and thirsty, and their lives ebbed away. Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and He delivered them from their distress. He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle. Let them give thanks to the LORD for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for mankind, for He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.”  (Psalm 107:5-9 NIV)

Lost, hungry, thirsty, and exhausted, these wanderers typify the Israelites in exile. But they also typify anyone who has not found the satisfaction that comes from knowing God. Anyone who recognizes his or her own lostness can receive the offer of Jesus to satisfy these needs. Jesus is the way (John 14:6), the bread from heaven (John 6:33,35), the living water (John 4:10-14), and the giver of rest (Matthew 11:28-30). Have you received His life-giving offer?

-- from “The Life Application Study Bible”


Tuesday, June 27, 2017


To affirm that God hears our prayers is to make a major claim about God and God's openness to us. God hears our prayers because He has affirmed His availability to us in Jesus Christ. Such a statement must be made softly and with an appreciation of its magnitude. God, in Jesus Christ, has made Himself available to us. We are able to hear God as the Holy Spirit opens our ears and makes us available to God.

-- Thomas A. Langford in “Christian Wholeness


Monday, June 26, 2017


If our faith is something that really does not make a big difference, if it is actually not crucial that we or others believe, no wonder it seems boring to some of our young. Anything we don't care about can't be very interesting. The things we do care about, however, we inevitably talk about... If faith is real, it seeks expression. It will communicate and profess. It will have the energy of passion.

-- John F. Kavanaugh in “The Word Encountered”


Friday, June 23, 2017


The Bible describes God as both transcendent and immanent. To hold an accurate view of God, we must live with the tension inherent in these opposing characteristics.

Transcendent means that God is far above and greater than His creation. He is and always will be infinite, independent, unchanging, and sovereign. God’s transcendence is evident in the following passages: Psalm 113:4-6, Isaiah 55:8-9, and Acts 17:24-25.

Scripture is equally clear that God is immanent. He is not an abstract deity removed from His creation. He is and always will be personal, relational, responsive, and engaged. The following passages express His immanence: Isaiah 49:15-16, Luke 12:6-7, Romans 8:15.

In many passages both immanence and transcendence are described. Here is one example: “The Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods [transcendence]… Come, let us bow down and worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for He is our God and we are the people of His pasture, the flock under His care [immanence].”  (Psalm 95:3,6-7)

-- Tim Muehlhoff in an article entitled “A Balanced View of God” in “Discipleship Journal”, Sep/Oct 2006


Thursday, June 22, 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 corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.”  (2 Timothy 3:16 NLT)

Scripture requires the activity of the Holy Spirit to speak. Words become the Word by the empowering presence and activity of the Holy Spirit. Modernity taught that most rational human beings, regardless of background, training, or character, were perfectly capable of unaided understanding, perfectly able to grasp and comprehend everything in the world simply by the use of reason. Scripture frustrates such limited knowing. Scripture opens itself up to us through the work of the Holy Spirit, whom we cannot rationalize or control, and modernity is high on control and rationalization. Thus, interpretation of Scripture is a communal, pneumatic affair -- a work of grace -- requiring considerably more than the lone, reasoning reader.

-- Bishop Will Willimon, from his Peculiar Prophet blog


Wednesday, June 21, 2017


"God takes care of His people like a shepherd. He gathers them like lambs in His arms and carries them close to Him." (Isaiah 40:11)

We have been touched by God's tenderness -- all the tenderness of a gentle father. God doesn't come quarreling and wrangling and forcing His way into anyone's heart. He comes into our hearts like a gentle lamb, not a roaring lion.

-- Max Lucado


Tuesday, June 20, 2017


“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are My ways higher than your ways
    and My thoughts than your thoughts.”  (Isaiah 55:8-9)

The way God works is totally different than the way the world works, because the goals are totally different. If you want to build an organization, human wisdom will do it, but if you want to reveal the ways of God, you have to use God's ways.

-- adapted from Henry Blackaby


Monday, June 19, 2017


Hope does not build on certainty. To hope means we cannot be completely sure.  There are no guarantees. Coming to God with a mixture of hope and excitement is normal and human. We may even experience less welcome feelings alongside hope, such as anxiety, fear, and distrust. But those feelings are acceptable. God welcomes us with whatever degree and quality of hope possible for us. Even if the hope is simply an inexpressible desire for something more, it has power, and its power grows as we nurture the hope in God's presence.

The psalmist says, "You, O LORD, are my hope, my trust, O LORD, from my youth" (Psalm 71:5). When we anchor our hope in God's steady love and good plans for us, hope becomes a permanent part of us.  We have hope not because we are powerful or smart or resourceful but because of who God is. And as we test our hope by acting on it, we release God's power into our circumstances. Our "hope muscle" grows stronger and our desire for God more compelling, just as exercising strengthens our physical muscles. As we consciously work with God, we will see more evidence of God's work in the world around us. The more we hope and watch, the more we will see that reinforces our hope and trust.

-- Mary Lou Redding in “While We Wait” (Nashville, Tenn.: Upper Room Books, 2002)


Friday, June 16, 2017


"You have collected all my tears in Your bottle.”  (Psalm 56:8)

There are many different kinds of tears.  There are the tears shed by the mother of a little boy in ICU who is far too young to fight leukemia, but he fights anyway.  There are the tears shed by the father of the bride as he walks his daughter down the aisle on her wedding day.  There are tears that stain divorce papers, and tears mixed with sweat that stream down the faces of grown men who have just won a national championship.  Then there are the tears shed in prayer.

Each and every teardrop is precious to God.  They are eternal keepsakes.  The day will come when He wipes away every tear in heaven.  Until then, God will move heaven and earth to honor every tear that has been shed.  Not a single tear is lost on God.  He remembers each one.  He honors each one.  He collects each one.

-- Mark Batterson in “The Circle Maker”


Thursday, June 15, 2017


We once lived across the street from a couple who did not get along.  The husband worked in security, but his passion was to be a body-builder.  He was strong, sarcastic, and self-centered.  His wife was small and timid -- and angry.

He had to go to work every morning at 6:00, and she got up at 5:00 to fix his lunch.  We wondered why she would do this for someone she was so mad at until she explained that she was secretly packing his lunches with enough calories to put weight on Shamu the Killer Whale.  She loaded what he thought were dietary turkey sandwiches with butter and mayonnaise.  She put extra sugar in his yogurt and made his protein shakes with half-and-half.  He worked out a lot, but he could never understand why his body didn’t look like the guys in the magazine.

He never knew she was larding him up when he wasn’t looking.

Our bodies are constantly being formed by what goes into them.  We may not like this truth, we may not heed it, but we can’t evade it.  Bodies get shaped by what goes into them…

In this world we are being bombarded by a steady stream of messages from the media, bosses, co-workers, people we date, books, iPods -- and from our own thoughts.  Our mind will be shaped by whatever we feed it while the Evil One tries to lard up our mind when we’re not looking.  He will put depression in our thoughts at breakfast, sprinkle temptation in our mind at noon, and slip us a worry sandwich when it’s time for bed.

He will try to keep us from noticing what we are putting into our mind.

-- John Ortberg in "The Me I Want To Be"


Wednesday, June 14, 2017


“When we were overwhelmed by sins, You forgave our transgressions.”  (Psalm 65:3)

Although we may feel overwhelmed by the multitude of our sins, God will forgive them all if we ask sincerely. Do you feel as though God could never forgive you, that your sins are too many, or that some of them are too great? The good news is that God can and will forgive them all. Nobody is beyond redemption, and nobody is so full of sin that he or she cannot be made clean.

-- from “The Life Application Study Bible”


Tuesday, June 13, 2017


"They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength."  (Isaiah 40:31)

God doesn't tell us how He'll answer our prayers, or even when, but He does promise those who wait on Him one thing -- strength. Tony Evans points out that the word "wait" comes from a Hebrew word used in the making of rope. Every rope starts as a thread, and every thread added just increases its strength. Getting the idea? Every time you wait on the Lord you add another thread to the rope; you get a little stronger, a little more able to cope. Feel like you're just hanging on by a thread? Wait in God's presence and let Him turn it into a rope.

But waiting is not always passive, sometimes it's active; like waiting on a customer, seeing that his or her needs are met. Waiting is not so much a position, as it is a focus. Isaiah says, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed [focused] on Thee" (Isa 26:3). Whether it's sitting prayerfully in God's presence, or actively carrying out His will, you've got His assurance that your strength will be renewed. Listen to these promises:
      (1) "Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord" (Psalm 27:14 NKJV).
      (2) "Wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him" (Psalm 62:5 NKJV).
      (3) "As the eyes of servants look to the hand of their masters... so our eyes look to  the Lord our God" (Ps 123:2 NKJV).

Need more strength? Wait on God more!

-- Source Unknown, from a subscriber in Pennsylvania


Monday, June 12, 2017


The Trinity is what we have if Jesus Christ is indeed God with us, God as God really is.  The Trinity shows that God is in relationship, that God is constantly, relentlessly relational, outgoing, and incarnational.  We can have new church starts, growing churches, and an expansive Kingdom of God because we have a God who is Triune.  The Trinity designates God as communicative, loving, relational, and on the move.

-- U.M. Bishop Will Willimon from an online interview


Friday, June 9, 2017


"Cast your cares on the LORD and He will sustain you." -- Psalm 55:22 (NIV)

The word "cast" brings a picture of throwing or pushing away and that is exactly what we must learn to do with our worldly cares. Jesus can handle them. We sometimes give them a nice kick toward the Lord in a sort of ceremonial way, but hang on just enough to stay involved! We may actually be thinking, "Well, I can handle this or that myself;" and that thinking gets us into trouble. We try to fix, control or otherwise manipulate situations that we should have left to our Lord. Fling your cares toward our loving Lord and enjoy the freedom of living!

-- Rev. Gary Stone


Thursday, June 8, 2017


Caregiving is a deeply ingrained human response to suffering. We want to ease pain, to restore calm and peace to those in need. But caregiving takes a toll… It is hard to listen to others when the pains and troubles of our own lives are clamoring for attention.

But if we learn to listen to our own needs and wants, that listening can free us to learn to become truly present to the inner deep and fragile beauty of those under our care. Then even the most mundane and repetitive caregiving tasks can become a means for us to grow.

-- Henri Nouwen in “A Spirituality of Caregiving


Wednesday, June 7, 2017


“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for You, my God.” (Psalm 42:1)

This psalm got made into a song, and sometimes when people sing it they think it means they are supposed to long for God or like church services and church songs.  But this psalm is much bigger than that.  It means that God is my life-giver and therefore my desire for life cannot be satisfied apart from Him.

This is not a picture of Bambi wandering through a leafy-green, stream-laden forest with a slightly parched throat.  This is desert country.  No rivers, just wadis -- gullies that would contain water only in the rainy season.  Now the wadis are dried up, and the deer is going to die if it doesn’t find water.  That is us.  We were made for soul satisfaction and simply die without it.

If you want life, you want God.  You want Him the way a deer dying of thirst wants water.  You want God more than you know.

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


Tuesday, June 6, 2017


If we have routinely nurtured our relationship with Jesus, that provides a safety margin against the unexpected [of life]. For example, my wife has been quite careful to care for a small tree in our front yard. It is an evergreen magnolia that we both hope to enjoy as a full-grown tree one day. It has some new leaves and my wife has it staked out for protection against the wind. Due to her diligent work the tree has many new limbs and leaves. Well, along comes a stray football and one limb is suddenly ripped away! Does the tree now die? No, it does not because the other limbs and leaves can pull some extra weight for this "time of trouble."

Likewise our relationship with Jesus has multiple branches. When one branch suddenly falls under attack the others can do extra work to make up the difference. We very well may face some difficult trials in life, but our day after day nurturing of our relationship with Christ paves the way for success. When the going gets tough the Spirit is ready and willing to support and hold us firm. This simply does not happen if we have failed to nurture our relationship with Jesus.

-- Rev. Gary Stone


Monday, June 5, 2017


To enter God's refuge, we must first call out to God.  Psalm 91:15 says, "He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him."

For the life of me, I can't figure out how this calling-on-God thing works, but it does.  The Bible tells us to walk by faith, not by sight, and this is one of those times when we can't understand why something works, we can only trust in God and then be delighted when we experience it.

For centuries now, Christians have poured out their hearts to the Lord and found treasured moments of refuge.  This is incredibly good news.  We don't have to get out a map, calculate how far away each one of the cities of refuge is, and then embark on a journey.  We don't have to drive to a monastery.  We don't have to call a minister.  We don't have to wait until the next church service.  The front seat of our cars will work nicely.  Our offices, our homes, our construction trailers -- they're all as good as the most elaborate cathedral.  We can access the refuge of God anytime, anywhere.  All we have to do is to acknowledge our need, move from self-sufficiency to dependence, and ask God to become our hiding place.

-- Bill Hybels in “The God You're Looking For”


Friday, June 2, 2017


“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures...”  (Psalm 23:1,2a)

Sometimes God puts us on our backs in order to give us a chance to look up: "He makes me lie down." Many times we are forced, not by God, but by circumstances of one sort or another to lie down. That can always be a blessed experience. Even the bed of an invalid may be a blessing if he takes advantage of it!

-- Charles L. Allen in “The Twenty-Third Psalm”


Thursday, June 1, 2017


"The Lord is my shepherd…" (Psalm 23:1)

Someone has well said that "the heart of religion lies in its personal pronouns." What a difference that one little word, "my", makes: "my shepherd"... It makes all the difference in the world whether you say, "Jesus is a savior" or "Jesus has saved me"; whether you say, "The Lord is a shepherd" or "The Lord is my shepherd"; it makes the difference between being saved or lost.

-- Maxie Dunnam in “Living the Psalms”