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”


Monday, October 23, 2017


When a mother eagle builds a nest, she begins with broken branches, sharp rocks, and a number of other items that seem unsuitable for the project.  Then she lines this prickly foundation with a thick layer of feathers, wool, or fur from animals she has killed, making a soft place to lay her eggs.  When the [eaglets] reach flying age, this comfortable nest and the free meals the mother brings make them a bit reluctant to leave.  That's when the mother eagle begins "stirring up the nest."  She pulls away the soft layers, exposing the sharp rocks and branches.  Eventually, this and other promptings force the young eagles to leave their once-comfortable home and move on to maturity.

Coming of age isn't easy for eagles or human beings, there are dues to be paid all along the way.  Like a mother eagle, God knows when you are fully equipped, ready to leave the nest and fly into adventures untold.  …Paul urges you to grow up in Christ, because you "should no longer be children, tossed to and fro,…but…[growing] up in all things into Him who is the head -- Christ"  (Ephesians 4:14-15).

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


Friday, October 20, 2017


“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another -- and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”  (Hebrews 10:24-25 NIV)

Within the body of Christ we need to be intentional about the seeds we sow, about how our behavior with friends should be preparing us for service out in the world. We need each other to draw us out of our self-centeredness. We need others to hold us accountable, to be like a mirror to help us see our lives and our doing of our faith more clearly. We need each other for mutual encouragement, to push further into serving the world than we might if left alone.

-- James C. Howell in “Your Are the Hands of Christ”


Thursday, October 19, 2017


Heaven is close. Perhaps closer than we imagine.  It's a little like saying to an unborn infant in his mother's womb, "Do you realize that you are about to be born into a great big world full of mountains, rivers, and a sun and a moon? In fact, you exist in that wonderful world right now."

"Wait a minute," the unborn babe might say. "No way. My world is the one surrounding me.  It's soft, warm, and dark.  You'll never convince me that just a few hairbreadths outside the uterus exists this place of rivers, mountains, and a sun and moon, whatever that stuff is."

Dear baby! There he is, safe in his little world, ignorant of the fact that a more glorious world is enclosing and encasing his.  A world for which he is being fashioned.  Only when he is birthed into it will he comprehend that all along his warm dark world was within it.  This other place of wonderful beauty was present all the time.  Only inches away…

-- Joni Eareckson Tada in “Heaven, Your Real Home”


Wednesday, October 18, 2017


“But to all who believed [Jesus] and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God.”  (John 1:12 NLT)

We children of the earth are able to be in relationship with God. It is within the context of grace that we are able to relax about ourselves and we become able to accept ourselves because we have already been accepted by God. We no longer have to pretend; we no longer have to have things come to us in manageable and safe ways. We are opened by God's grace and we are open to God's grace.

-- Thomas A. Langford in “Christian Wholeness”


Tuesday, October 17, 2017


“He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.”  (Isaiah 53:3 NIV)

We may not get the answer to the problem of pain that we want from Jesus.  We get instead the mysterious confirmation that God suffers with us.  We are not alone.  Jesus bodily reconstructs trust in God.  Because of Jesus, I can trust that God truly understands my condition.  I can trust that I matter to God, and that God cares, regardless of how things look to me at the time.  When I begin to doubt, I turn again to the face of Jesus, and there I see the compassionate love of a God well acquainted with grief.

-- Philip Yancey in “The Bible Jesus Read


Monday, October 16, 2017


There was a group of women in a Bible study on the book of Malachi. As they were studying chapter three, they came across verse three, which says: “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.” This verse puzzled the women and they wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature of God.

One of the women offered to find out about the process of refining silver and get back to the group at their next Bible study.

That week this woman called up a silver smith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn't mention anything about the reason for her interest in silver beyond her curiosity about the process of refining silver. As she watched the silver smith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities.

The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot -- then she thought again about the verse, that He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver. She asked the silver smith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined. The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left even a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed. The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silver smith, how do you know when the silver is fully refined?

He smiled at her and answered, "Oh, that's easy -- when I see my image in it."

If today you are feeling the heat of the fire, remember that God has His eye on you.  God is continually refining us so that we will reflect His image.

-- Author Unknown


Friday, October 13, 2017


When the Bible teaches that God is omniscient -- that He has complete knowledge -- it is not saying that God is bright.  It is not saying that He is sharp.  It is not even saying that He is a genius.  These are the finite expressions of a people severely limited by space and time.

What the Bible is really getting at is that God knows everything.  No question can confound Him.  No dilemma can confuse Him.  No event can surprise Him.  He has eternal, intrinsic, comprehensive, and absolutely perfect knowledge.

Nothing is news to God.

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


Thursday, October 12, 2017


God's omnipotence means [His] power to do all that is not intrinsically impossible.  You may attribute miracles to Him, but not nonsense. This is no limit to His power.  If you choose to say, "God can give a creature free will and at the same time withhold free will from it", you have not succeeded in saying anything about God: meaningless combinations of words do not suddenly acquire meaning simply because we prefix to them the two other words "God can."  It remains true that all things are possible with God: the intrinsic impossibilities are not things but nonentities.  It is no more possible for God than for the weakest of His creatures to carry out both of two mutually exclusive alternatives -- not because His power meets an obstacle, but because nonsense remains nonsense even when we talk it about God.

-- C. S. Lewis (1898-1963) in “The Problem of Pain”


Wednesday, October 11, 2017


Jesus told them, "I assure you, even if you had faith as small as a mustard seed you could say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it would move. Nothing would be impossible."  (Matthew 17:20 NLT)

If you are facing a problem that seems as big and immovable as a mountain, turn your eyes from the mountain and look to Christ for more faith. Only then will you be able to overcome the obstacles that may stand in your way.

-- Life Application Bible


Monday, October 9, 2017


God's purpose for marriage goes beyond intimacy, sharing romantic times together, and achieving oneness. Marriage is meant to be a couple's locking arms together to influence their world and future generations with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

-- Dennis Rainey in “Building Your Marriage”


Friday, October 6, 2017


The Hebrew word, nabi, translated "prophet" in English Bibles, has the connotation of "message bearer".  The prophets were men called by God to serve as His messengers to a stubborn and unheeding people.  They were always careful to point out that they were not voicing their own wisdom.  Their warnings, entreaties, and promises were always prefaced by the awesome proclamation: "Thus says the Lord..."  When the prophets did engage in prognostication, they usually were concerned with events which were fairly close at hand, such as the Assyrian conquest of Israel and the Babylonian conquest of Judah (both of which they foretold with deadly accuracy).  But occasionally a prophet's vision ranged farther into the future, to the day when God would enter into a new covenant with his rebellious children.  The hope of reconciliation was often linked with the coming of a very particular person, a Messiah or Savior.

What made the prophets so sure that they had a right -- nay, a duty, -- to speak in the name of God?  It is clear from their writings that they were not megalomaniacs who confused their own thoughts with the voice of God.  On the contrary, they were humble men, awe-stricken by the responsibilities thrust upon them...  The prophets minced no words in their indictments of the sins of Israel and Judah, and they trod especially hard on the toes of the rich, the powerful, and the pious.  The Establishment responded then as some [do now]: "One should not preach of such things!" (Micah 2:6).

-- Louis Cassels (1922-1974) in “Your Bible”


Thursday, October 5, 2017


You may feel that, from a human perspective, what you have to offer doesn't count for much, that it will never be very visible or dramatic.

Jesus has made it clear: There is no truth in such a perspective.  We serve the Lord of the Gift.

The Lord of the Gift can take five fish and two loaves and feed the multitudes.  The Lord of the Gift can take two mites given by an impoverished widow and make it the lead gift in the whole campaign.  The Lord of the Gift can take a stuttering fugitive named Moses and defy a world-power dictator and his army.  The Lord of the Gift can go from a blood-stained cross to an Empty tomb.  The Lord of the Gift can take twelve bumbling followers and create a community that has spread throughout the world with a dream that refuses to die.

He is a surprisingly resourceful person, the Lord of the Gift.  He can take what you have to offer and make a difference that matters for eternity.

-- John Ortberg in “If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat


Wednesday, October 4, 2017


Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”  (John 14:6a)

Jesus is named for every [human need]: To the hungry He is the Bread of Life; to the thirsty He is the Fountain of Living Waters; to the sick He is the Balm of Gilead; to the dying He is the Resurrection and the Life; to the lonely, the Friend that sticks closer than a brother; to the outcast, the Friend of Sinners. The crescendo of our Lord’s identification with man was reached at the cross -- there He was “numbered with the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12).

-- Ronald Dunn in “Don’t Just Stand There, Pray Something”


Tuesday, October 3, 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)

The future belongs to the young and so it is they in particular who must face this urgent question:  Ought we not to take more seriously again the familiar system of values which can help us determine what to do?  I am not suggesting a nostalgic retreat into the past; but perhaps we should chart our future course with the help of a certain compass, which may not have outlived its usefulness after all.  A compass which -- after many other instruments have proved to have given only unreliable bearings in the tempests of modern times -- could perhaps point us a course toward a future of greater human dignity.  A compass that might reorientate us with essential Christian values once more, and in a new way, in an era whose values have been so impoverished.

-- Hans Kung in “Why I Am Still A Christian”


Monday, October 2, 2017


“But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."

Our choices do not lie in the past.  We cannot change the past -- only the way we view the past and respond to it. Our choices lie in the future. How am I going to show my love and the love of Christ to my neighbors, my friends and my family? How am I going to respond to that love from others in a way that builds relationships? How am I going to choose love over hate, life over death? We make our choices, and then our choices turn around and make us.

-- Rev. David T. Wilkinson