Monday, December 31, 2018


N0TE: As we end the year, maybe there is something -- a bad relationship, a sin, a habit, a desire, a self-centeredness, etc. -- that you would like to leave behind. I have adapted a prayer from Patricia Wilson that you might want to use on this final day of 2018. Fill in the blanks with something you would like to leave behind. -- DW


I’ve tried everything, I can’t think of anything else to do, Lord. So I give this ____________ to You. I ask for nothing -- no special favors, no divine interventions, no sudden revelations. I simply place this in Your hands. And in giving it to You, I feel great relief. It is done. I have finally given up and accepted this ending. I know that from this moment on, my life will be different, and I accept this beginning as well.

Give me the strength to let all else go. Keep me from returning to this ____________. Remind me that I have given it to You.

Lead me to the higher ground, dear Jesus, where I can leave this ____________ behind. Fill me instead with Your peace and the knowledge that You are with me.

Be in this space between the ending and the beginning. It is a scary place for me as I begin to work through my life without this ____________ in it. Be between what was and what is to come.

Draw me closer to You in this time between the ending and the beginning. Let me see the place ahead not as a place to be feared but as a place You have prepared for me. 

-- Adapted from Patricia Wilson in “Quiet Spaces”

Friday, December 28, 2018


The Gospel of Matthew tells us that the magi, or wise men, travelled from the East in search of the Christ child. They inquired of King Herod where they might find Him, saying, "Where is He who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw His star when it rose and have come to worship Him" (Matthew 2:2). Upon finding the baby Jesus, “they bowed down and worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh” (Matthew 2:11).

Gold is a precious metal and as such was a very valuable commodity. Its value could very well have financed Joseph and Mary’s trip to Egypt. The Bible does not tell us any other significance to these three gifts; however, tradition has it that there is a deeper meaning for each of the three. Gold is a symbol of divinity and is mentioned throughout the Bible... The gift of gold to the Christ child was symbolic of His divinity -- God in flesh.

Frankincense is obtained from a tree by making incisions in the bark and allowing the gum to flow out. It is highly fragrant when burned and was therefore used in worship, where it was burned as a pleasant offering to God (Exodus 30:34). Frankincense is a symbol of holiness and righteousness. The gift of frankincense to the Christ child was symbolic of His willingness to become a sacrifice, wholly giving Himself up, analogous to a burnt offering.

Myrrh was also obtained from a tree in the same manner as frankincense. It was a spice and was used in embalming. It was also sometimes mingled with wine to form an article of drink. Such a drink was given to our Savior when He was about to be crucified… Myrrh symbolizes bitterness, suffering, and affliction. The baby Jesus would grow to suffer greatly as a man and would pay the ultimate price when He gave His life on the cross for all who would believe in Him. 

-- Excerpted from


Thursday, December 27, 2018


“Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.  Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.’”  (Luke 2:9-11)

According to Luke's gospel, the angelic annunciation of the birth of the Savior of the world came not to important dignitaries or kings, but to shepherds tending their flocks in the middle of the night. While the recipients of the message were certainly important to God's plan, equally so were the sheep they watched.

We can trust that God had a specific purpose for this shepherd audience, and the work they performed suggests the reason. These men, who watched the sheep meant for the slaughter, received a divine message about the ultimate Lamb who would take away the sins of the world through His death and resurrection. 

-- Adapted from “The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah” by Alfred Edersheim


Wednesday, December 26, 2018


"For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish but may have eternal life." (John 3:16 NRSV)

As you gave and received Christmas gifts this year, did you notice when, in the transaction, the change of ownership took place. It was not when the gift was created or purchased. It was not when it was wrapped and labeled "from ______, to ______." It was not when the gift was sent in the mail or placed under the tree. No, the ownership of that gift changed from the giver to the receiver when the gift was actually accepted and opened.

So it is with God's Gift of Jesus Christ to the world. This Gift is given "from God, to the whole world." But just like the Christmas gifts you gave and received this year, the Gift of God's Son must be received and opened individually by believing.

"But to all who received Him, who believed in His name, He gave the power to become children of God." (John 1:12 NRSV)

What a gift! 

-- Rev. David T. Wilkinson 


Monday, December 24, 2018


“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  (John 3:16 NKJV)

“Right from the beginning God's love has reached, and from the beginning [humans have] refused to understand. But love went on reaching, offering itself. Love offered the eternal... we wanted the immediate. Love offered deep joy... we wanted thrills. Love offered freedom... we wanted license. Love offered communion with God Himself... we wanted to worship at the shrine of our own minds. Love offered peace... we wanted approval for our wars. Even yet, love went on reaching. And still today, after 2000 years, patiently, lovingly, Christ is reaching out to us today. Right through the chaos of our world, through the confusion of our minds. He is reaching... longing to share with us... the very being of God.

His love still is longing. His love still is reaching, right past the shackles of our mind. And the Word of the Father became Mary's little Son. And His love reached all the way to where I was.” (Gloria Gaither)

“He rules the earth with truth and grace,
and makes the nations prove
the glories of His righteousness
and wonders of His love.”  (from “Joy to the World” by Isaac Watts)

May you know the Wonders of His love this Christmas!


Friday, December 21, 2018


“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.”

St. Bernard of Clairvaux writes of three advents. One is in the PAST: Christ was born to the Blessed Virgin Mary when God Incarnate came to rescue the world. One is in the PRESENT: now is the time to prepare our hearts for Christ’s dwelling. And one is in the FUTURE: Christ will come again in glory. During the Advent season I usually only consider the past Advent, Christ’s Nativity. After all, it’s complete and all that I need to do is remember what has happened and celebrate on Christmas morning what Our Lord has done. The other two advents require more of me. How do I prepare my heart for the Son of God to enter it? And perhaps even more difficult: How can I bear waiting for Christ’s return in exile, amidst grief, pain, and uncertainty?

In the advent carol the first step is to long for Christ. O come, O come, Emmanuel, God with us. We long for Him because we have come to understand the difficult reality of our situation. Until we realize that placing our security in anything of this life is fruitless, we will not be able to long for Christ as we ought.

“Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel” 

-- Haley Stewart, excerpted from her blog


Thursday, December 20, 2018


"When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’ They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger.”  (Luke 2:15-16)

Is it possible to have Christmas without Christ? I mean apart from the name; obviously you can’t spell the word Christmas without the name Christ. But I mean the event… the celebration… the holiday. Can you have Christmas without Christ as the focus?

As ludicrous as the question sounds, if you stand back and look at our society, it looks like that’s exactly what people are attempting to do. We pile up gifts and food and festivities and shopping and… more food and days off from work so high that it’s hard to find Christ in Christmas...

So it’s makes me wonder how many people could care less whether He came or not; whether they have a Christ for Christmas or not? So what if He didn’t come? What if the shepherds found an empty manger? They would have just gone back to their flock of sheep; but would it make a difference in your life?

Well, whether it would matter to you or not, and I hope it does, it would make all the difference to the whole world. A Christmas without Christ would mean that the Bible is false and the world would be lost. Which is why I am glad that the manger was not empty. There, born on that day in the City of David, was Christ the Lord. Our savior was born and He still lives. I have believed Him and received Him, and it has made all the difference for all of eternity.

I pray that this year, you won’t be having a Christmas without Christ. 

-- Rev. Eric Evans, excerpted from his blog


Wednesday, December 19, 2018


"Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call Him Immanuel, which means 'God is with us.'"  (Matthew 1:23 NLT)

The moment Mary touched God’s face is the moment God made His case: there is no place He will not go. If He is willing to be born in a barnyard, then expect Him to be at work anywhere -- bars, bedrooms, boardrooms, and brothels. No place is too common. No person is too hardened. No distance is too far. There is no person He cannot reach. There is no limit to His love. When Christ was born, so was our hope.

I think we need Christmas more than ever this year. We could use a season that is dedicated to giving, not receiving; to caring, not critiquing. Put away our differences. Put up the Christmas tree. Take comfort in the familiar story and the ancient carols. Our world, like that of Bethlehem, is difficult and crowded. Our days can feel as cold and uncertain as that midnight manger. Yet, in the midst of it all, let’s do what Mary did. Let’s invite the source of peace to enter our world. Let’s find hope, once more, in the infant King.

God became one of us so we could become one with Him. That is the promise of Bethlehem. 

-- Max Lucado, excerpted from an article entitled “Do We Really Need Christmas This Year?”


Tuesday, December 18, 2018


“What Child is this who, laid to rest,
on Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet
while shepherds watch are keeping?
This, this is Christ the King,
whom shepherds guard and angels sing.
Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
the Babe, the Son of Mary!”  (William Dix)

The Christmas miracle -- God made man, omnipotence and weakness, vast reach and tiny fingers -- is absolutely the most perfect example of God’s upside-down way of getting His agenda accomplished. In the smallness of a baby, our God has come to earth. This tiny Child has come to our world to do nothing less than do battle with sin and Satan.

But He’s big enough. Because in that little head is the mind of God, and in those little hands is power to heal and protect. He became incarnate to have a life to live in our place and to have a life to give in our place. That is what Child this is.

“Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:6-8). 

-- Excerpted from “An Advent Playlist: Hymn-Based Devotions” at


Monday, December 17, 2018


“No more let sins and sorrows grow
nor thorns infest the ground:
He comes to make His blessings flow
far as the curse is found.”  (From “Joy to the World” by Isaac Watts)

Any careful reading of the Bible provides a lot of evidence to support the claim that trying to make all things good and beautiful is very much a part of being God's people.  When Jesus saved us, He called us to be partners with Him in the work that He wanted to do in the world.  There is little doubt that our Lord very much wants to recreate this world through us and make it like new.  Part of the reason why Jesus came into the world and saved us from sin was for just that purpose.  Through us who are saved and sanctified by His grace, He wants to renew the earth.  God's will is that everything, ourselves included, should be made new and beautiful again.  The Bible says as much in Romans 8:19ff:

"For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who His children really are. Against its will, everything on earth was subjected to God's curse. All creation anticipates the day when it will join God's children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right to the present time. And even we Christians, although we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, also groan to be released from pain and suffering.  We, too, wait anxiously for that day when God will give us our full rights as His children, including the new bodies He has promised us." (Romans 8:19-23 NLT) 

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


Friday, December 14, 2018


“The Word became a human being and lived here with us. We saw His true glory, the glory of the only Son of the Father. From Him the complete gifts of undeserved grace and truth have come down to us.”  (John 1:14 CEV)

"As nurses commonly do with infants, God is wont in a measure to 'lisp' when speaking to us," said John Calvin.  In the Old Testament especially, God "lisped."  Speaking in a language that could be understood, God gradually edged His people toward a different way.  He took the side of the oppressed and promised a Suffering Servant who would redeem not as the perpetrator but as the victim of violence.  For a time He allowed behavior that He disapproved of, "because your hearts were hard."  Meanwhile, albeit sometimes in zigzag fashion, the long vectors of history pointed steadily toward His Son, Jesus, the final revelation of God in human form.  In Jesus, God no longer lisped; the Word spoke loud and clear. 

-- Philip Yancey in “The Bible Jesus Read”


Thursday, December 13, 2018


“Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.’"  (John 8:12)

Candles are always popular for giving a warm romantic glow and this time of year they are to be seen on many different occasions.  Of course a candle is easy to blow out!  So much so that its flickering light was chosen by Shakespeare as a picture of the transitory nature of life.  Out, out brief candle!

Darkness is a reminder of evil, for it is in the darkness that people get lost, stumble and fall.  It is in the darkness that power is misused, corruption reigns and evil is done.  It is easy to imagine that in the end evil will triumph and the light will disappear.  Situations change.  Familiar landmarks… disappear.  There is the unrelenting pressure of a vanity fair society.  The candle burns down and gives a thin wisp of smoke before going out.

But there are also the special party candles that keep bursting back into life.  They are a much better picture of the light of the gospel!  For though they have been numerous attempts down the centuries to extinguish the light, it has kept on bursting back into flame.

The light of Christ keeps on shining.  New ways of sharing the good news come along.  New believers are attracted to His light.  Sleepy Christians are re-awakened…

The light keeps on shining in the darkness.  It is a statement and a promise at the same time.  It is isn't that once the light shone, but rather, that in the present it shines, and it will do so in the future as well.  For the light comes from the One who is, as well as who was, and is also the One who is to come. 

-- David Bronnert 


Wednesday, December 12, 2018


"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and without Him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in Him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it… And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen His glory, the glory as of a Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth."  (John 1:1-5,14 NRSV)

Christ is the Word of God. It is not in certain texts written in the New Testament, valuable as they are; it is not in certain words which Jesus spoke, vast as is their preciousness; it is in the Word, which Jesus is, that the great manifestation of God is made. 

-- Phillips Brooks (1835-1893) 


Tuesday, December 11, 2018


“Do not be afraid” serves as the first word spoken by the angel to the shepherds in the field (Luke 2:10) and later by an angel to two women at the tomb (Mark 16:6). When angels appear on the scene, it would seem, fear is not far behind -- and for good reason. When angels appear, something of the divine breaks in on human history, something that exceeds our understanding, not to mention our control; something that pronounces there is more to life than meets the eye in the keeping of a flock or the maintaining of a career or the “business as usual” sign we hang on our relationships and commitments. When angels descend, fear of the new and the unknown shakes us with the announcement that God is up and about and on the move.

“I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Messiah, the Lord.” The angel who spoke to shepherds in the fields outside of Bethlehem seeks to disarm their fears with a word concerning the birth of good news. It is a word that has worldwide implications (“for all people”), yet a word that bears the most personal of implications (“to you”). The word speaks of Savior, Messiah, and Lord. 

-- John Indermark in “Setting the Christmas Stage” 


Monday, December 10, 2018


“Praise the Lord, you heavenly beings; praise His glory and power. Praise the Lord's glorious name; bow down before the Holy One when He appears. The voice of the Lord is heard on the seas; the glorious God thunders, and His voice echoes over the ocean. The voice of the Lord is heard in all its might and majesty.”  (Psalm 29:1-4 GNT)

If you don’t see the greatness of God then all the things that money can buy become very exciting. If you can’t see the sun you will be impressed with a street light. If you’ve never felt thunder and lightning you’ll be impressed with fireworks. And if you turn your back on the greatness and majesty of God you’ll fall in love with a world of shadows and short-lived pleasures. 

-- John Piper


Friday, December 7, 2018


A gift is something that is given to another voluntarily and for which no payment is received or expected. It is a way we have of saying to another, “I love you” or “I think you are wonderful.”

God’s ultimate gift to us is the giving of His Son, Jesus Christ. We remember that gift in one of the best know verses of the Bible, John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” When we remember the giving of that great gift, it is appropriate that we should respond to God’s love with expressions of our love. But how can we respond to God’s love? Jesus taught that love of God and love of neighbor go hand in hand. (Cf. Matthew 22:37-40, John 13:34-35, 1 John 4:19). The giving of gifts to those we love is just one way to show that we have learned of love from Jesus. 

-- Kenneth A. Mortonson in “The Advent Instructor: Reflections on Christmas Symbolism”


Thursday, December 6, 2018


“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)

“In the beginning…” With those words, John intentionally places the opening of his Gospel alongside the opening words of the biblical witness. In those first words of beginnings in Genesis, the story spoke of creation’s unfolding from God’s hand and purpose. In the Gospel of John, these new words of beginnings portend a new creation emerging from those same hands and purposes. The Word present at creation’s beginning, the Word now become flesh to live among us, John identifies not only with God; this Word was God, according to the prologue. In Jesus of Nazareth, as a relatively recent affirmation of faith puts it, God has come and shared our common lot.

-- John Indermark in “Setting the Christmas Stage”


Wednesday, December 5, 2018


“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.”  (Colossians 3:15-16 NRSV)

The peace of Christ should “rule” in our hearts. One meaning of the Greek word translated rule is to be the umpire.

Peace, or lack of it, is one way God has of telling us whether we are out or safe, and whether a situation is fair or foul.  This does not mean we can never make a decision until we feel some kind of mystical peace.  Some people, by their very nature, would never make any decision if they had to wait until they felt peace about it.  It means instead that we can be at peace about doing the things God's Word specifically says we should do.  For instance, God says we should go to a brother or sister we've offended and ask forgiveness.  Therefore we can have peace about doing it even though we feel anything but peaceful on the way over to do it.

-- Gary Smalley in “Joy That Lasts”


Tuesday, December 4, 2018


"To all who received Him, who believed in His name, He gave power to become children of God…" (John 1:12 NRSV)

Advent marks the beginning of the church year and lays before us the pathway of faith for the year ahead.  Advent initiates once again remembering, retelling, and celebrating the whole drama of God's revelation.

Four weeks is the limit to this season that declares the truth about a God whose love and resourcefulness have no limits.  "Advent" has its roots in the Latin word "adventus," or coming. This season proclaims the coming of Christ in the birth of Jesus, in the Word and Spirit, and in the final victory when God's kingdom shall be complete. 

Our privilege as Christians is to receive the gracious gifts of God's presence in Christ.  Our task is to prepare for His coming so that we will not miss life's greatest gift. 

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


Monday, December 3, 2018


“In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.’ This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: ‘A voice of one calling in the wilderness, “Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him.”’”  (Matthew 3:1-3)

We are used to democracy and everyone receiving a voice; but that is not Christianity and it is certainly not God. Due process and the majority vote can and do err especially in regards to religion. God is wholly other, but has chosen to reveal Himself in history and become one of us in the person of Jesus Christ. He has also left us His Church… We have not elected God President and God's creation is not made up of registered voters. There are no referendums on God's will and there is no chance of recalling Him... Consequently, certain images of God, such as Lord and King will always seem foreign in a democratic, individualistic society. But, once again, we must remember that God is a different type of King: all-powerful, but also all-loving, all-merciful and in a loving relationship with His creatures… We must submit to Jesus as our Lord and King, but it is a submission that paradoxically brings with it liberation, freedom from sin. 

-- Jonathan Bennett 


Friday, November 30, 2018


“Grace and peace to you from Him who is, and who was, and who is to come, …and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve His God and Father -- to Him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.”  (Revelation 1:4-6)

It’s hard to relate to a “King” in the U.S.  This country has never had a king; this country exists because of our founders’ rejection of the whole idea of a king.

Some European democracies still have a figurehead crown -- beloved figures who symbolize everything that is good about their nation. People in Britain relate with such reverence to Queen Elizabeth II, and the common people seem to love the King of Norway and the King of Holland. The royals really love their people, too; at least that is how it is supposed to work.

That two-way love is relatable; love is how we should relate to Christ as our king. If it’s not love, then we’re not doing it right. 

-- Bob Slobig


Thursday, November 29, 2018


It’s tempting to describe spiritual formation in terms we can really master or regulate, like a check list or a huddle or listening to a series of recorded teachings. Such schemes can too readily become perfunctory, another sort of legalism, a way to avoid exploration and mystery, or little more than formulaic.

Being a Christian is not about us; it’s about Jesus! Spiritual formation is about the life of Jesus being made visible in our bodies; it’s about engaging the Spirit because we are hungry for God; it’s about becoming disciples so that Jesus can pour His life into us. It’s about learning to love God with our heart, mind, body, and soul. It’s about having the courage to actually follow Jesus -- to place one foot in front of the other, to dare to live a life of grace.

Paul summed it up well: “I am confident in this, that the One who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). 

-- Derek Maul in “Get Real: A Spiritual Journey for Men”


Wednesday, November 28, 2018


“We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”  (Romans 8:28 NIV)

Our failures. That’s the hardest area, especially when they have affected the lives of our loved ones. As our two children step out into the adult world it is a joy to see many beautiful things in their lives. But it hurts to see areas of need and struggle that stem in part from ways we have failed them [as their parents].

A friend reminded me recently that even these areas are part of the “all things” which God will use to make a man and a woman who will accomplish His unique purposes.

So when thoughts of my [parenting] failures push their way into my consciousness, I let His total forgiveness dissolve my regrets, and go on to praise Him who accepts us just as we are and lovingly works to make us more than we are. 

-- Colleen Evans, quoting a friend, in “Start Loving”


Tuesday, November 27, 2018


How do you pray when you suffer or when people you love suffer? How do you pray when people you do not like (even hate?) get ahead? How do you pray when the world doesn’t make sense? How do you pray when you have some doubts or are angry at God?

I found my answer in the book of Psalms. The Psalms give us a complete picture of prayer. They take on the whole of life. They give us words for all occasions, from the height of joy to the depths of despair. The Psalms let us feel what we feel. The Psalms meet us where we are, even when our feelings are less than godly, and give us words to say to God. They are the language of the heart.

“Then I realized that my heart was bitter, and I was all torn up inside. I was so foolish and ignorant -- I must have seemed like a senseless animal to You. Yet I still belong to You; You hold my right hand. You guide me with Your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny.”  (Psalm 73:21-24 NLT) 

--  Thomas C. Parker in an article entitled “Language of the Heart” in “Discipleship Journal” Issue 99


Monday, November 26, 2018


“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)  “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our LORD.” (Romans 6:23)  “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)

We have Americanized the gospel or spiritualized the American dream. Take your pick. But neither one comes close to the true gospel. When you try to add something to the gospel, you aren’t enhancing it. Any addition is really subtraction. The gospel, in its purest form, is as good as it gets.

We want God on our terms, but we don’t get God that way. That’s how we get false religion. It’s pick and choose. It’s cut and paste. The end result is a false god we’ve created in our image.

You only get a relationship with God on His terms. You can take it or leave it, but you cannot change the rules of engagement. 

-- Mark Batterson in “All In”


Wednesday, November 21, 2018


“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.”  (Psalm 118:1 NIV)

Precisely because God is so gracious and generous toward us, in the face of all our waywardness, the Christian life is especially marked by gratitude and trust. Gratitude is the hallmark of the heart that knows its Redeemer personally and intimately. Grasping the true significance of God’s gift overwhelms the soul with thanksgiving. And a thankful life is naturally a generous life, desiring ways to give something back to God however small the gesture may seem. 

-- from “Embracing the Journey: The Way of Christ” Participant’s Book: Part 1 of the Companions in Christ Series


Tuesday, November 20, 2018


“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)

To give thanksgiving unto God we must recognize His hand in our lives. What blessings has He given to you? A great idea is to get out a piece of paper (or open a new document) and number your blessings one by one.

As you count your blessings, be specific. Name individual family members and friends. Think of your life, health, home, city, and country. Ask yourself what, exactly, about your home or country is a blessing? How about your skills, talents, education, and job? Think about those times that seemed like a coincidence; did you overlook God's hand in your life? Did you think of God's greatest gift, His Son, ​Jesus Christ?

You will be amazed at how many blessings you truly have. Now you can show thanksgiving to God for them.

-- Rachel Bruner in an article entitled “11 Ways to Show Thanksgiving to Heavenly Father”


Monday, November 19, 2018


“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”  (Ephesians 5:1-2 NIV)

Our God is a giving God. He is a God of abundance, and He loves to give. In Christ He sacrificed willingly on the cross and then invited us into fullness of life. As His children, we are called to imitate Him. Our generosity in giving is a demonstration of God’s character and a response to what He has done for us.

As we become more and more who God has called us to be – more like Him – through the process of sanctification, we reflect God more and more. We become more loving, more gracious, and, yes, more giving. Because God is generous, we are also called to be generous. Generosity not only points others to God, it is an appropriate response to what God has done for us. 

-- from an article entitled "Why is giving so emphasized in the Christian faith?" on the website


Friday, November 16, 2018


“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”  (Hebrews 6:19a NIV)

Hope is called the anchor for the soul because it gives stability to the Christian life. But hope is not simply a ‘wish’ (I wish that such-and-such would take place); rather, it is that which latches on to the certainty of the promises of the future that God has made. 

-- R.C. Sproul


Thursday, November 15, 2018


“Jesus is the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He might come to have first place in everything. For in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through Him God was pleased to reconcile to Himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of His cross.”  (Colossians 1:18-20 NRSV)

When Henry David Thoreau withdrew from the world for two years to live on Walden Pond, he did so to simplify life and reduce it to its lowest common denominator.  Ponder his words:

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.  I did not wish to live what was not life, living it so dear, nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary.  I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms."

When a Christian reduces life to its [essence], it's Christ.  He is the kernel.  Everything else is husk.  He, and He alone, is our basis for contentment.

-- Charles R. Swindoll in “The Practical Life of Faith” 


Wednesday, November 14, 2018


“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith -- and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God -- not by works, so that no one can boast.  For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  (Ephesians 2:8-10)

The Christian life begins as our hearts are drawn to God through God’s prevenient grace. It progresses as we hear the good news and choose to trust in Jesus Christ and receive His justifying grace and a new birth. However, this birth is not the end of our faith; it is when the real journey begins. As we experience the means of grace, we’re restored by the Spirit to become what God has made us to be: created in God’s image, loving God with all that is within us, and blessing our neighbor with a love not merely of words or affection but also of deeds expressing compassion, mercy, and justice. 

-- Adam Hamilton in “Revival: Faith as Wesley Lived It”


Tuesday, November 13, 2018


“Jesus said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”  (Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV)

It takes a great deal of work for a group of strangers to achieve the safety of true community. Once they succeed, however, it is as if the floodgates were opened. As soon as it is safe to speak one’s heart, as soon as most people in the group know they will be listened to and accepted for themselves, years and years of pent-up frustration and hurt and guilt and grief come pouring out. And pouring out ever faster. Vulnerability in community snowballs. Once its members become vulnerable and find themselves being valued and appreciated, they become more and more vulnerable. The walls come tumbling down. And as they tumble, as the love and acceptance escalate, as the mutual intimacy multiplies, true healing and converting begins. Old wounds are healed, old resentments forgiven, old resistances overcome. Fear is replaced by hope. 

-- M. Scott Peck in “The Different Drum”


Monday, November 12, 2018


David said, “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine [giant].” Saul said to David, "Go, and the LORD be with you." (1 Samuel 17:37)

Giants. We must face them. Yet we need not face them alone. Focus first, and most, on God. The times David did, giants fell. The days he didn't, David did…

Focus on giants -- you stumble. Focus on God -- your giants tumble.

Lift your eyes. Giant-slayer. The God who made a miracle out of David stands ready to make one out of you. 

-- Max Lucado in “Facing Your Giants”


Friday, November 9, 2018


“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”  (Matthew 7:24 NIV)

I vividly remember some time back being caught in the undertow of too many commitments in too few days. It wasn't long before I was snapping at my wife and our children, choking down my food at mealtimes, and feeling irritated at those unexpected interruptions through the day. Before long, things around our home started reflecting the pattern of my hurry-up style. It was becoming unbearable.
I distinctly recall after supper one evening the words of our younger daughter, Colleen. She wanted to tell me about something important that had happened to her at school that day. She hurriedly began, "Daddy-I-wanna-tell-you-somethin'-and-I'll-tell-you-really-fast."

Suddenly realizing her frustration, I answered, "Honey, you can tell me ... and you don't have to tell me really fast. Say it slowly."

I'll never forget her answer: "Then listen slowly."

-- Charles Swindoll in “Stress Fractures”


Thursday, November 8, 2018


“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve.”  (1 Corinthians 15:3-5)

Paul is a prime example of the radical new ways followers of Jesus would spread God’s truth. He had not been among Jesus’ earliest followers, and in fact he had persecuted the first believers. But after miraculously experiencing the presence and resurrection power of Christ, Paul devoted the rest of his life to proclaiming the dual call to love God and serve Him through a life of disciple making: “But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the LORD, because God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our LORD Jesus Christ.”  (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14)

At great personal cost, Paul traveled throughout the world of his day inviting people to follow Jesus and then encouraging them to go out and invite others to do the same: “So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our LORD or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. He has saved us and called us to a holy life -- not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace.”  (2 Timothy 1:8-9a) 

-- Steve & Lois Rabey, General Editors, in “Side by Side”


Wednesday, November 7, 2018


“Because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions -- it is by grace you have been saved.”  (Ephesians 2:4,5 NIV)

The comics sometimes have a way of expressing great and deep thoughts through the use of humor. For example, I discovered an interesting insight into grace in one of the “Dennis the Menace” cartoons. As you are aware, Dennis is indeed a menace and pest to his neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Wilson. Yet Mrs. Wilson continues to be kind and gracious to Dennis. In this particular cartoon, Dennis and his little friend Joey are leaving Mrs. Wilson’s house with their hands full of cookies, and Joey says, “I wonder what we did to deserve this?” Dennis answers with great insight, “Look, Joey, Mrs. Wilson gives us cookies not because we’re nice, but because she’s nice.”

God loves us and seeks us not because we are lovable but because God is love. That’s grace! 

-- James W. Moore and Bob J. Moore in “Lord, Give Me Patience!... And Give It to Me Right Now!”  


Tuesday, November 6, 2018


“Don’t just think about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and in what they are doing.”  (Philippians 2:4 TLB)

Most of us have opportunities every day to extend... relational generosity to someone and "make their day".  One student in nurses training learned this from her professor.  The last question on a pop quiz was "What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?"  The student's initial response was, "This has to be some kind of joke!"  She had seen the tall, fiftyish woman at work but felt no obligation to know her name.

Following the exam a student asked if that question would count on the grade.  "Absolutely," the professor exclaimed.  "In your careers you will meet many people.  All are significant.  They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say hello."

The individual who related this incident said, "I've never forgotten that lesson.  I also learned her name was Dorothy." 

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


Monday, November 5, 2018


“Show me Your ways, O Lord;
Teach me Your paths.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
On You I wait all the day.”  (Psalm 25:4-5 NKJV)

When I meditated on the word GUIDANCE, I kept seeing "dance" at the end of the word. I remember reading that doing God's will is a lot like dancing. When two people try to lead, nothing feels right. The movement doesn't flow with the music, and everything is quite uncomfortable and jerky. When one person realizes that, and lets the other lead, both bodies begin to flow with the music.

One gives gentle cues, perhaps with a nudge to the back or by pressing lightly in one direction or another. It's as if two become one body, moving beautifully. The dance takes surrender, willingness, and attentiveness from one person and gentle guidance and skill from the other.

My eyes drew back to the word GUIDANCE. When I saw "G," I thought of God, followed by "u" and "i." "God, "u" and "i" dance." God, you, and I dance. As I lowered my head, I became willing to trust that I would get guidance about my life. Once again, I became willing to let God lead.

Dance together with God, trusting God to lead and to guide you through each season of your life.

-- Source Unknown, from a SOUND BITES subscriber in Wisconsin


Friday, November 2, 2018


“Show me Your ways, O Lord;
Teach me Your paths.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
On You I wait all the day.”  (Psalm 25:4-5 NKJV)

It would seem that admission to the inner circle of deepening intimacy with God is the outcome of deep desire. Only those who count such intimacy a prize worth sacrificing anything else for are likely to attain it. If other intimacies are more desirable to us, we will not gain entry to the circle… The place on Jesus’ breast is still vacant, and open to anyone willing to pay the price of deepening intimacy. We are now, and will be in the future, only as intimate with God as we really choose to be.

-- J. Oswald Sanders in “Enjoying Intimacy with God”


Thursday, November 1, 2018


“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us,…”  (Hebrews 12:1 NRSV)

Saints are never once-upon-a-time characters, stuck in the annals of history. They live and breathe when we retell their stories. But more than that, we Christians have this keen sense that these saints, even those who have died, are truly alive. They are with God. They seem, mysteriously enough, more alive now than they were during the life demarcated by their births and deaths -- and they were very much alive then, pulsating with the very life of God. They know that this life is not all there is. For them, the window into the future has been flung open, and they want to testify to us, stretching our imaginations and bequeathing us their courage.

-- James C. Howell in “Servants, Misfits, and Martyrs”


Wednesday, October 31, 2018


“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”  (Philippians 2:3-4 NIV)

Our happiness is greatest when we contribute most to the happiness of others.

-- Harriet Shepard 


Tuesday, October 30, 2018


“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”  (Jeremiah 29:11)

We all need hope. We all need something to look forward to. We need the ability to move into the future without fear or dread, because if we lose hope in the future, our life in the present becomes powerless, empty, stagnant, and desolate. As Christians, we have hope because we have the promise of continual new beginnings, fresh starts. We believe in sanctifying grace and we live in the hope that God will continue to perfect us, grow us, and challenge us. The poet Louise Fletcher Tarkington expressed this desire and need: “I wish there were some wonderful place, / called the Land of Beginning Again.”

Hope reminds us that there is this place and this power in the grace and love of God. And as Christians, we have the hope that nothing in life now and forever can defeat us. Hope is the buoyant spirit that raises us up when life knocks us down. 

-- James W. Moore and Bob J. Moore in “Lord, Give Me Patience!... And Give It to Me Right Now!” 


Monday, October 29, 2018


“Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.”  (1 Peter 3:9 NIV)

Booker T. Washington was born a slave but came in time to be the most influential African American leader and educator in the United States. His achievements were made against fierce odds, including the treatment he received from racists and those who resented his accomplishments. He vowed, however, that he would never allow anyone to make him "stoop so low" as to hate them. He insisted on returning good will for evil; he didn't take on the image of his enemies.

-- J. Ellsworth Kalas in “If Experience Is such a Good Teacher Why Do I Keep Repeating the Course?” 


Friday, October 26, 2018


“Out of the depths I cry to You, LORD; Lord, hear my voice. Let Your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. If You, LORD, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? But with You there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve You. I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in His word I put my hope.”  (Psalm 130:1-5 NIV)

How do you pray when you suffer or when people you love suffer? How do you pray when people you do not like (even hate?) get ahead? How do you pray when the world doesn’t make sense? How do you pray when you have some doubts or are angry with God?

I found my answer in the Book of Psalms. The Psalms give us a complete picture of prayer. They take on the whole of life. They give us words for all occasions, from the height of joy to the depths of despair. The Psalms let us feel what we feel. The Psalms meet us where we are and give us words to say to God. They are a language of the heart. 

-- Thomas C. Parker in an article entitled “Language of the Heart” published in “Discipleship Journal” No. 99, May/June 1997


Thursday, October 25, 2018


“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve.”  (1 Corinthians 15:3-5 NIV)

Paul is a prime example of the radical new ways followers of Jesus would spread God’s truth. He had not been among Jesus’ earliest followers, and in fact had persecuted the first believers. But after miraculously experiencing the presence and resurrection power of Christ, Paul devoted the rest of his life to proclaiming the dual call to love God and serve Him through a life of disciple making: “But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 NIV)

At great personal cost, Paul traveled throughout the world of his day inviting people to follow Jesus and then encouraging them to go out and invite others to do the same: “So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me His prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. He has saved us and called us to a holy life -- not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace.”  (2 Timothy 1:8-9a NIV) 

-- From “Side by Side: Disciple-Making for a New Century”, Steve & Lois Rabey, General Editors


Wednesday, October 24, 2018


“Jesus answered [Nicodemus], ‘I am telling you the truth: no one can see the Kingdom of God without being born again.’" (John 3:3 GNT)

The initial salvation experience, however it may come and however wonderful it may be, is only the beginning; there is much to follow. It’s like a wedding. It is easy to have a beautiful wedding, but it takes a lot of work and commitment and love to make a beautiful marriage.

I am convinced that many professing Christians do not understand this. They have the simplistic idea that when they have “accepted Christ” and joined the church, that’s all there is and there’s nothing more. They see this initial experience as the final goal when really it is only the starting place. They think they have graduated when really they have barely enrolled. It is a wonderful thing to become “newborn,” to become a “babe in Christ,” but to remain a spiritual baby is tragic. Babies are sweet and adorable, but if they remain infants and never grow up, we consider that a calamity, and it is. 

-- James W. Moore and Bob J. Moore in “Lord, Give Me Patience!... And Give It to Me Right Now!” 


Tuesday, October 23, 2018


“God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can't take credit for this; it is a gift from God.”  (Ephesians 2:8 NLT)

Life is not an aimless groping.  We are called.  "By His grace" means that God does not look around to see who will best suit His purposes and then single them out because He is pretty sure that they will do a good job.  It means that God has a capacity so large in love and purpose that He calls us in order to do something for us -- to give us something.  Grace. 

-- Eugene Peterson


Monday, October 22, 2018


“Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’”   (Matthew 28:18-20 NKJV)

The key to the missionary’s work is the authority of Jesus Christ, not the needs of the [world]. We are inclined to look on our Lord as one who assists us in our endeavors for God. Yet our Lord places Himself as the absolute sovereign and supreme Lord over His disciples. He does not say that the [world] will never be saved if we don’t go -- He simply says, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…." He says, "Go on the basis of the revealed truth of My sovereignty, teaching and preaching out of your living experience of Me."

-- Oswald Chambers in “My Utmost for His Highest”


Friday, October 19, 2018


"Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”  (Ephesians 5:1-2 NIV)

My father is a podiatrist; he heals hurting feet for a living.  When I was in college, I needed to earn some money, so dad invited me to come work in his office for the summer.  I pictured myself happily typing letters, answering phones, and taking long lunches.  Instead, I was given the unpleasant tasks of washing dirty feet and clipping gnarly toenails.  As if that wasn't enough, my dad also expected me to show up early to wash windows and clean toilets -- something the other office girls never did.  "Don't they have janitors for that sort of thing?" I argued, thinking I was above that job.  I guess my father wanted me to learn that I had to pay my dues in the work world so I'd grow into a productive adult.

God the Father created heaven and earth, and He heals hurting hearts for a living.  His Son wanted to join the family business, and do you know what?  He washed feet, too!  And He touched lepers.  Slept without a bed.  And if that were not enough, He endured the shame of the Cross, descended to the lower parts of the earth, and then ascended far above the heavens.  Jesus paid the dues for all of humanity's sin so we could grow into mature Christians. 

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


Thursday, October 18, 2018


"My food," said Jesus, "is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work.”  (John 4:34)

Jesus considered God’s will to be His highest priority (see John 4:43-34). Following God’s will is also important to you. Often when people want to know God’s will, they will ask, “What is God’s will for my life?” As one of my seminary professors, Gaines S. Dobbins, used to say, “If you ask the wrong question, you are going to get the wrong answer.”

“What is God’s will for my life?” is not the best question to ask. The better inquiry is, “What is God’s will?” Because people are naturally self-centered, we tend to view the whole world -- even God’s activity -- in terms of our own lives. Of course, we want to know what we should do and how events will affect us. But that is actually an inverted life-perspective. Once I know God’s will, my life gains its proper perspective, and I can adjust my life to Him and to His purposes. In other words, what is it that God is purposing to accomplish where I am? Once I know what God is doing, then I see what I should do. My focus needs to be outward on God and His purposes, not inward on my life…

Discovering God’s greater plan helps you know what He wants to do through you. 

-- Henry Blackaby, Richard Blackaby and Claude King in “Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God”


Wednesday, October 17, 2018


“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on His law day and night.”  (Psalm 1:1-2 NIV)

When you let your thoughts wander, what do you think about? If you will cultivate the habit of thinking about God and His Word and prayerfully expressing your thoughts to Him, you will find that the most ordinary activities of your life are permeated by the presence of God. You will discover how His Word is relevant to your actions, your decisions, your problems. 

-- Jerry Bridges, from an article entitled “Staying Faithful Through the Years: How Can You Keep Walking with God Throughout Your Life?” in “Discipleship Journal," No. 58


Tuesday, October 16, 2018


“So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!”  (2 Corinthians 5:17 NRSV)

God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost isn’t a consulting firm we bring in to give us expert advice on how to run our lives. The gospel life isn’t something we learn about and then put together with instructions from the manufacturer; it’s something we become as God does His work of creation and salvation in us and as we accustom ourselves to a life of belief and obedience and prayer. 

-- Eugene H. Peterson


Monday, October 15, 2018


“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)

In his book “Like a Rock,” Andy Stanley describes a solitary, two-hundred-year-old, evergreen tree at the edge of a rocky overlook in the Appalachian foothills. Stanley writes, "Through the years, it has defied heavy snow, hailstorms, and the steady, westerly winds rising off the valley floor. From it's vulnerable view of endless ridges and valleys, it has seen conditions that would snap most trees in half. Nevertheless, it stands strong. What's the secret?... The answer lies below the surface. For literally two centuries, the elements have hurled their assaults against the tree. But while storms raged on the outside, the tree quietly developed an inner support system to sustain it. Every gust of wind sent the roots sprawling deeper into the soil, expanding the tree's tenacious grip on the mountain..."

Each one of us is like a tree. We are subjected to the stormy elements of life. And when, not if, those storms come, we either snap or grow stronger. What makes the difference is not the strength of the storm but the depth of our relationship in Christ. Sink your roots deep. 

-- Rev. David T. Wilkinson 


Friday, October 12, 2018


“Weeping may linger for the night,
    but joy comes with the morning…
You have turned my mourning into dancing;
    You have taken off my sackcloth
    and clothed me with joy,
so that my soul may praise You and not be silent.
    O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.”  (Psalm 30:5b,11,12)

Our sorrows are all, like ourselves, mortal. There are no immortal sorrows for immortal souls. They come, but blessed be God, they also go. Like birds of the air, they fly over our heads. But they cannot make their abode in our souls. We suffer today, but we shall rejoice tomorrow. 

-- Charles Spurgeon


Thursday, October 11, 2018


“Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
    I fear no evil;
for You are with me;
    Your rod and Your staff --
    they comfort me.”  (Psalm 23:4 NIV)

God is present in all things, even those events and circumstances that seem terrible.  Within any circumstance is the seed that can bear the fruit of the greater good, if we are willing to ask God to lead us in bringing forth that good. 

-- Mary Manin Morrissey 


Wednesday, October 10, 2018


The Bible is God’s Word to you. The Holy Spirit honors and uses God’s Word as He speaks to you. The Scriptures are your source of authority for how you live your Christian life and how you relate to God. You can’t depend on human traditions, your experience, or the opinions of others to be accurate authorities on God’s will and ways. While these can be helpful, they must always be evaluated in light of the teaching of Scripture.

Anything of spiritual significance that happens in your life will be a result of God’s activity in you. He is infinitely more concerned with your life and your relationship with Him than you or I could possibility be. Let God’s Spirit bring you into an intimate relationship with the Lord of the universe “who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think -- according to the power that works in you” (Ephesians 3:20)… As you prepare to obey Him, trust that God who has already begun a good work in you will complete it in His time (Philippians 1:6). 

-- Henry Blackaby, Richard Blackaby and Claude King in “Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God” 


Tuesday, October 9, 2018


[The righteous] will still bear fruit in old age,” declares the psalmist, “they will stay fresh and green” (Psalm 92:14). I think of an older friend of mine, now in her eighties, who is still bearing fruit. She is limited in her physical mobility, but in her prayer life she ranges all over the globe, praying for Christian works and workers worldwide. She is not turning aside from God’s work, nor is she stagnating in her inner spiritual life. She will stay fruitful to the end because she will continue to serve God to the end.

None of us is ever finished “doing our share.” We can never repay the debt of love we owe to Christ. If we are running for the long haul we must determine to never to quit His service. If we want to run with endurance we must keep asking as long as we live, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Only in that way can we expect to stay faithful to the end and be greeted at the finish line by our Lord’s voice saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” 

-- Jerry Bridges in “Staying Faithful Through the Years: How Can You Keep Walking with God Throughout Your Life?” from “Discipleship Journal,” No. 58


Monday, October 8, 2018


“But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions -- it is by grace you have been saved.”  (Ephesians 2:4-5 NIV)

The divine Presence constantly moves toward us.  Initiative for our relationship with God always comes from God…

Every prayer you pray, every thought you think of God -- even the deepest yearnings of your being for fulfillment and final satisfaction -- are but responses to the Spirit of God who has initiated your hunger for the relationship. 

-- Ben Campbell Johnson in “Calming the Restless Spirit”


Friday, October 5, 2018


God created you for a love relationship with Him. He yearns for you to love Him and to respond to His immeasurable love for you. God’s nature is perfect, holy, total love. He will never relate to you in any other way although you may not always understand His actions. There will be times when you do not comprehend why He allows certain things to occur, and that is to be expected. He is the infinite God while we are limited human creatures. He sees the eternal ramifications of everything that happens. We don’t. 

-- Henry Blackaby, Richard Blackaby and Claude King in “Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God”


Thursday, October 4, 2018


To be honest, the word ‘whatever’ isn’t my favorite word as a parent. It’s often a dismissive word that can have disrespectful undertones, but I think it’s redeemable. In fact, it’s one of my one-word prayers to God. When used in a submissive way, the word ‘whatever’ is a statement of absolute surrender.

Think of Gethsemane, the garden where Jesus Himself wrestled with the will of God. He said to His Father, “Take this cup from Me.” It was a reference to the cup of wrath. Jesus knew He’d have to drink it to the dregs, but before He did, He asked the Father if He would take it away, if there was any other way. But then He qualified His request with the ultimate all in prayer: “Not My will, but Yours be done.”

This was Jesus’ all in moment. This was His ‘whatever’ prayer. 

-- Mark Batterson in “All In”


Wednesday, October 3, 2018


“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is -- His good, pleasing and perfect will.”  (Romans 12:2 NIV)

God is sufficiently wise and good and powerful and merciful to turn even the most, apparently, disastrous event to the advantage and profit of those who humbly adore and accept His will in all that He permits. 

-- Jean-Pierre de Caussade as quoted in “The Little Book of Grace”


Tuesday, October 2, 2018


Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in Me will never die. Do you believe this?"  (John 11:25-26 NIV)

Those who die in grace go no further from us than God -- and God is very near. 

-- Pierre Teilhard de Chardin as quoted in “The Little Book of Grace”


Monday, October 1, 2018


Until God's will holds sway in our own hearts and lives, we bear no living witness to the Good News of God's transforming love. The gospel is not a general principle of goodness in the world. It is the concrete vision of God's love realized in person; first and foremost in the person of Jesus Christ, then in those of His disciples who have proved willing to become like Him in extraordinary love. They are called saints. Whether widely or little known, it is the lives of such persons that bear power to attract and transform others. It is not their own power. Their lives are simply so transparent to the Spirit that God's love radiates through them.

-- Rev. Marjorie Thompson in “Leading from the Center” Newsletter 


Friday, September 28, 2018


“If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because [God] first loved us.”  (1 John 4:15-19 NIV)

Should I worship Him from fear of hell, may I be cast into it.  Should I serve Him from desire of gaining heaven, may He keep me out.  But should I worship Him from love alone, He reveals Himself to me, that my whole heart may be filled with His love and presence.

-- Sadhu Sundar Singh (1889-1929) 


Thursday, September 27, 2018


“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’  But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.”  (Luke 15:20-24 NIV)

When we as failers fail and then come to our senses, we should be eager to return home to our Christian community because we know what to expect.

We do not expect a chorus of “I told you so’s.” We do not expect a group of accusers and theology monitors. We do not expect to jump through hoops to prove we’re repentant. No. We expect a party.

That is what Christians do with failers. We are irresponsible just like Jesus. We do more than instruct, we surprise. We do more than pray, we party. We do more that correct, we dance. And we do more than love, we celebrate.

Just like Jesus. 

-- Michael Yaconelli in “Reckless Grace,” Discipleship Journal, No. 109


Wednesday, September 26, 2018


“We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God.”  (2 Corinthians 5:20 NIV)

What our culture needs these days is a vibrant, plausible, winsome Christianity. Intellectual and philosophical arguments are important and good, but they cannot stand alone. They must come from lives of people who have evidentially been changed for the better by the God they profess. Do we love people enough, we must ask, to showcase -- by how we talk, how we do business, how we do politics, and how we treat people -- something of the goodness, justice, loyalty, beauty, and love of our true home? Why does Christ get such bad press in our day -- or why does He often get no press at all? Could it be, at least in part, because we are not the winsome ambassadors we should be? 

-- Charles D. Drew in “A Public Faith”


Tuesday, September 25, 2018


Preaching is not the only way we declare the Gospel of Christ. Our lives also should be witnesses to others of the reality of Christ. Those who have affected me most profoundly in my life have not necessarily been great or eloquent preachers, but men and women of God whose lives were marked by holiness and Christ-likeness. The Gospel must be communicated not only by our lips but by our lives. This is a visual proof that the message we preach actually can change lives.

Our world today is looking for men and women with integrity, for communicators who back up their ministry with their lives. Our preaching emerges out of what we are.

-- Billy Graham in “The Faithful Christian: An Anthology of Billy Graham”


Monday, September 24, 2018


One of the major themes in the Bible is what we call the divine initiative. Life and salvation begin with God, not us. This means that God reaches out to us and seeks us out in love and grace.

The concept of the seeking God is unique to the Judeo-Christian faith... From the beginning to the end, the Bible is the story of the God who seeks His people and despite their unresponsiveness and unfaithfulness, does not give up on them. God will not let them go. God pursued Israel and pursues us with the indestructible love of a parent. In the closing of the Twenty-third Psalm, the phrase “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life” can also be correctly translated, “Surely goodness and mercy shall pursue me all the days of my life.” God with His goodness and mercy does not trail behind us, but rather He pursues us and chases us down. 

-- James W. Moore and Bob J. Moore in “Lord, Give Me Patience!... And Give It to Me Right Now!”   


Friday, September 21, 2018


In this age of the ubiquitous Martha Stewart, it’s easy to feel unsettled about hospitality. After watching Martha mastermind a feast for 50, we can decide we’re too busy, uncreative, or financially limited to invite company into our houses…

If time, money, and energy were the true measuring sticks of hospitality, then most of us should lock the front door and watch television. But thankfully our guideline for hosting guests comes from the Bible. In Romans 12 Paul… instructed Christ’s followers to “practice hospitality” along with the reminders to “keep your spiritual fervor” and be “faithful in prayer.” The apostle considered hospitality an everyday practice and priority, integrating it with the keys to spiritual growth and vitality.

Yet Paul wasn’t referring to “entertaining” as we think of it today. Entertaining emphasizes planning, acquiring resources, and managing an event. Hospitality centers on inviting people into our lives, and sharing from what we have, on helping guests feel relaxed and part of the household. Instead of dazzling people with our social skills, we pour God’s warmth into their souls. 

--  Pamela A. Toussaint in “Hospitality in a Hectic World,” Discipleship Journal, No. 98


Thursday, September 20, 2018


“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body… and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many... God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as He wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body…. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”  (Excerpts from 1 Corinthians 12: 12-27 NIV)

Just as important as knowing what gift God has given you is knowing which gifts God hasn’t given you. Many Christians try for years to function with gifts they never had in the first place, and this doesn’t do the Lord’s work much good. It’s like trying to hear something with your knee or throw a ball with your nose. Knees and noses are [designed for] doing other things. 

-- C. Peter Wagner


Wednesday, September 19, 2018


“Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy… Christ suffered because of others’ sins, the Righteous One for the unrighteous ones. He went through it all -- was put to death and then made alive -- to bring us to God.”  (Excerpts from 1 Peter 3:15-18 The Message)

We can choke God’s Word with a yawn; we can hinder the time spent with God by remembering we have other things to do. “I haven’t time!” Of course you have time! Take time, strangle some other interests and make time to realize that the center of power in your life is the Lord Jesus Christ and His atonement. 

-- Oswald Chambers


Tuesday, September 18, 2018


“…let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

We are told to let our light shine, and if it does, we won't need to tell anybody it does. Lighthouses don't fire cannons to call attention to their shining -- they just shine. 

-- Dwight L. Moody


Monday, September 17, 2018


“…and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.”  (Matthew 6:12 NLT)

The words "you are forgiven" are the most hopeful words we can hear.  When we are laboring under a burden of guilt over things we have done and things we should have done but didn't, we can despair of ever being whole and free.  Someone has said of guilt, "It's a gift that keeps on giving."  Guilt has a way of gnawing away at our spirits until all that remains is discontentment, unhappiness, and fear of facing our sins.  As the psalmist wrote, "When I kept silence, my body wasted away through my groaning all the day long" (Psalm 32:3).  Forgiveness heals us by making whole a life torn apart by guilt.

With forgiveness comes hope for a new and restored relationship with God, others, and self.  Once the crushing burden of guilt is lifted, we need not be "paralyzed"; we are free to live the full and abundant life God wants for us. We are free to forgive.

-- Adapted from Robert Martin Walker in “Prepare Him Room”


Friday, September 14, 2018


Jesus prayed… “Now this is eternal life: that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.”  (John 17:3 NIV)

Christianity is not primarily a theological system, an ethical system, a ritual system, a social system, or an ecclesiastical system -- it is a person: it’s Jesus Christ, and to be a Christian is to know Him and to follow Him and believe in Him. 

-- John Stott


Thursday, September 13, 2018


“While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. ‘Your daughter is dead,’ they said. ‘Why bother the teacher anymore?’ Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, ‘Don’t be afraid; just believe.’… He took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with Him, and went in where the child was.  He took her by the hand and said to her, ‘Talitha koum!’ (which means ‘Little girl, I say to you, get up!’). Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished.”  (Mark 5:35, 40-42 NIV)

A business executive became depressed. Things were not going well at work, and he was bringing his problems home with him at night. Every evening he would eat his dinner in silence, shutting out his wife and five-year-old daughter. Then he would go into the den and read the paper, using the newspaper to wall his family out of his life.

After several nights of this, one evening his daughter took her little hand and pushed the newspaper down. She then jumped into her father’s lap, wrapped her arms around his neck, and hugged him strongly. The father said abruptly, “Honey, you are hugging me to death!” “No, Daddy,” the little girl said, “I’m hugging you to life!”

This was the greatness of Jesus. He took people where they were and hugged them to life. 

-- James W. Moore and Bob J. Moore in “Lord, Give Me Patience!... And Give It to Me Right Now!”


Wednesday, September 12, 2018


“See what an incredible quality of love the Father has shown to us, that we would [be permitted to] be named and called and counted the children of God! And so we are! For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, we are [even here and] now children of God, and it is not yet made clear what we will be [after His coming]. We know that when He comes and is revealed, we will [as His children] be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is [in all His glory].”  (1 John 3:1-2 Amplified)

Christianity teaches that salvation is not merely a posthumous experience, but starts here in this life on earth; the life of grace is incipient already in our earthly sojourn; it sprouts here though it blossoms and fructifies in heaven. The relation between the “this-world life of grace” and “the next-world life of heaven” is that of the seed and the tree. 

-- Jacob Kattackal


Tuesday, September 11, 2018


“Don't do anything from selfish ambition or from a cheap desire to boast, but be humble toward one another, always considering others better than yourselves.”  (Philippians 2:3 GNT)

When we humble ourselves because of our faults, we easily placate those around us and readily appease those who are angry with us. It is the humble whom God protects and liberates; it is the humble whom He loves and consoles. To the humble He turns and upon them bestows great grace, that after their humiliation He may raise them up to glory. He reveals His secrets to the humble, and with kind invitation bids them come to Him. Thus, the humble enjoy peace in the midst of many vexations, because their trust is in God, not in the world. Hence, you must not think that you have made any progress until you look upon others as better than yourself. 

-- adapted from Thomas à Kempis


Monday, September 10, 2018


Some of Jesus’ disciples were commissioned by Him to go out and preach, teach, and heal. But before conducting their missions of mercy, these disciples learned much from their master. In their case, being preceded doing. Loving God came before serving God. And that’s the way it should be for us too.

“Come, follow Me,” Jesus said to the brothers Peter and Andrew, “and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). Following Jesus preceded casting their nets for more followers. Discipleship preceded evangelism.  

-- Steve & Lois Rabey, General Editors, in “Side by Side”


Friday, September 7, 2018


Everybody wears an unseen sign that reads: Inspire me. Remind me that my life matters; call me to be my best self; appeal to whatever in me is most noble and honorable. Don't let me go down the path of least resistance. Challenge me to make my life about something more than the acquisition of money or success.

-- John Ortberg


Thursday, September 6, 2018


[In Matthew 14:13-21] a crowd of five thousand is listening to Jesus speak.  He doesn't want to send them away hungry, but there aren't any eating establishments anywhere.  Then a nameless boy offers his brown-bag lunch of five loaves and two fish to Jesus.  It's a nice gesture, but Andrew verbalizes what all the other disciples must have been thinking:  "How far will they go among so many? … Andrew starts doing the math in his head and it doesn't add up.

In terms of addition, 5 + 2 = 7.  But if you add God into the equation, 5 + 2 ≠ 7.  When you give what you have to God, He multiplies it so that 5 + 2 = 5,000.  Not only does God multiply the meal so that it feeds five thousand; the disciples actually end up with more leftovers than they had food to begin with.  Only in God's economy!  The twelve baskets of remainders means the most accurate equation is this:  5 + 2 = 5,000 R12.

If you put what little you have in your hand into the hand of God, it won't just add up; God will make it multiply.

One footnote. Do you recall what Jesus did right before the miracle?  It says Jesus "gave thanks." He didn't wait until after the miracle; He thanked God for the miracle before the miracle happened.

-- Mark Batterson in “The Circle Maker”


Wednesday, September 5, 2018


“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”  (James 1:2-4 NIV)

Hard times are not the time to push the pause button on this great adventure with God… We can find joy in the midst of our circumstances. This is God’s will for His people who want to live with a yes-heart.

It may be surprising to think of joy as something we experience not in the absence of trials but in the midst of them. But some Bible scholars believe it’s actually impossible to experience true joy any other way. In difficult times, we can experience joy by saying a defiant “Nevertheless.” I am struggling; nevertheless, God is good to me. I am hurting; nevertheless, I know God loves me. I am confused; nevertheless, I know God is with me. 

-- Lysa TerKeurst


Tuesday, September 4, 2018


Forgiveness Is a Choice: Jesus puts forgiveness on the level of personal decision, not emotion. "And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your transgressions." (Mark 11:25) This is a command, made to the will. Emotions, feelings, cannot be commanded. I must choose to forgive even when all my feelings cry against it. Often when I have struggled with forgiving someone, I've stood in my office and said audibly, loudly, "I forgive him, I forgive him, I forgive him." When I have set my will and heart in that direction, feelings of forgiveness follow and I can then say to the person involved, "I forgive you." It may take a while for all the hurt to leave but your choice releases the hold and time begins the healing process.

-- J. Alan Peterson in “The Myth of the Greener Grass” 


Friday, August 31, 2018


"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts… Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly…" (Colossians 3:15,16)

The Christian in the midst of a crisis doesn't allow everyone's opinion or everyone's feelings to cause him to drift away from what is most important. He sets his anchor deep in the Word and firm in his faith. 

-- Max Lucado


Thursday, August 30, 2018


“God made the two great lights, the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night; He made the stars also.”  (Genesis 1:16)

“…I look at the night sky and see the work of Your fingers -- the moon and the stars You set in place…”  (Psalm 8:3)

The most universally awesome experience that mankind knows is to stand alone on a clear night and look at the stars.  It was God who first set the stars in space; He is their Maker and Master …  such are His power and His majesty. 

--  J. I. Packer


Wednesday, August 29, 2018


“And I will do whatever you ask in My name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”  (John 14:13)

When Jesus told us that, if we prayed in His name, He would give us what we asked for (John 14:13), He certainly was talking about something far deeper than the reciting of a religious formula.  That kind of thing would reduce prayer to cheap magic.  Instead, our Lord was telling us that, if our prayers are to be effective, we must grow into people who are so like Jesus that our prayers will be an expression of His concerns about love.

In the ancient world, a person's name had a deep significance that has been lost in our modern world.  To those who lived in the ancient world in which Jesus lived, a person's name was meant to embody everything that the person was about.  A name expressed a person's essential character and tapped into the spiritual core of the person's identity.  So when Jesus told His disciples to pray in His name, He was telling them that if they would yield to His transforming power in their lives and let His mind be in them (Philippians 2:5), then their prayers would be like His.  Such prayers are answered. 

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


Tuesday, August 28, 2018


The inability to do nothing! Isn’t that the standard Jesus set?

He single-handedly turned the temple upside down and inside out by turning over tables and tossing out money changers. He confronted the Pharisees’ hypocrisy. He exorcised an evil spirit from a man possessed by demons. And He stopped a funeral procession in its tracks by raising a boy from the dead.

Jesus was anything but passive. He was the epitome of passion… So regardless of personality type, His followers ought to be the most passionate people on the planet. Going all in means defying religious protocol for the sake of God-ordained passions -- like the most famous party crasher of all time did, the prostitute who broke open her bottle of perfume to anoint  Jesus’ feet.

When will we realize that indecision is a decision? When will we come to terms with the fact that inaction is an action?

The church was never meant to be a noun. And when it turns into a noun it becomes a turn-off. The church was meant to be a verb, an action verb.

Two thousand years ago, Jesus gave the command to charge! And He’s never sounded the retreat. 

-- Mark Batterson in “All In”


Monday, August 27, 2018


“You must worship no other gods, for the LORD, whose very name is Jealous, is a God who is jealous about His relationship with you.”  (Exodus 34:14 NLT)

Did you catch the double emphasis?

This verse reminds me of one of my all-time favorite T-shirt taglines: The Department of Redundancy Department.  The first time I saw it, I did a double take. I don’t even know why I find that funny, but it’s probably the same reason I find this verse fascinating. God isn’t just jealous. He is doubly jealous. And when God says something more than once, you need to think twice about what it means.

You don’t belong to God once. You belong to God twice.

Once by virtue of creation. Twice by virtue of redemption.

He gave us life via creation. And when we were dead in our sin, He gave us eternal life via redemption. We don’t owe Him one life. We owe Him two lives! And that is why God is doubly jealous. 

-- Mark Batterson in “All In”


Friday, August 24, 2018


“Some people have given up the habit of meeting for worship, but we must not do that. We should keep on encouraging each other, especially since you know that the day of the Lord's coming is getting closer.”  (Hebrews 10:25 CEV)

A member of a certain church, who had been attending services regularly, stopped going. After a few weeks, the pastor decided to visit him. It was a chilly evening. The pastor found the man at home alone, sitting before a blazing fire. Guessing the reason for his pastor’s visit, the man welcomed him, led him to a comfortable chair near the fireplace and waited.

The pastor made himself at home but said nothing. In the grave silence he contemplated the dance of the flames around the burning logs. After some minutes, the pastor took the fire tongs, carefully picked up a brightly burning ember and placed it on one side of the hearth alone. Then he sat back in his chair, still silent.

The host watched all this in quiet contemplation. As the one lone ember’s flame flickered and diminished, there was a momentary glow and then its fire was no more. Soon it was cold and dead. Not a word had been spoken. The pastor glanced at his watch and realized it was time to leave. He slowly stood up, picked up the cold, dead ember and placed it back in the middle of the fire.

Immediately it began to glow once more with the light and warmth of the burning coals around it. As the pastor reached the door to leave, his host said with a tear running down his cheek, “Thank you so much for your visit and especially for the fiery sermon. I shall be back in church next Sunday.” 

-- Reprinted from the Parish Nursing News


Thursday, August 23, 2018


“Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.”  (Acts 3: 19 NKJV)

Worship is the strategy by which we interrupt our preoccupation with ourselves and attend to the presence of God.  Worship is the time and place that we assign for deliberate attentiveness to God -- not because He's confined to time and place but because our self-importance is so insidiously relentless that if we don't deliberately interrupt ourselves regularly, we have no chance of attending to Him at all at other times and in other places.

-- Eugene Peterson in “Leap Over a Wall”


Wednesday, August 22, 2018


“Wisdom and good judgment live together, for wisdom knows where to discover knowledge and understanding.”  (Proverbs 8:12 TLB)

Have you ever heard the expression, “He [or she] doesn’t have the sense God gave a goose?” It’s talking about someone who doesn’t use any common sense. God expects us to call on Him in times of need, but He also expects us to use wisdom to avoid trouble. If your boat is about to run into the rocks, call on God, but row away from the rocks. It’s the wise thing to do. 

-- Adapted from “God’s Little Book of Proverbs: Timeless Wisdom for Daily Living”


Tuesday, August 21, 2018


“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on His law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither -- whatever they do prospers.”  (Psalm 1:1-3 NIV)

If we spend 16 hours a day dealing with tangible things and only five minutes a day dealing with God, is it any wonder that tangible things are 200 times more real to us than God?

-- William R. Inge


Monday, August 20, 2018


“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”  (Romans 5:1-5 NIV)

If you’re running a 26-mile marathon, remember that every mile is run one step at a time. If you are writing a book, do it one page at a time. If you’re trying to master a new language, try it one word at a time. There are 365 days in the average year. Divide any project by 365 and you’ll find that no job is all that intimidating.

-- Charles Swindoll


Friday, August 17, 2018


Jesus said, “Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me.” (Matthew 11:29)

Following Jesus means that we have to keep walking on the ground, to keep struggling. The work of living does not necessarily become easier because we are disciples.  In fact, discipleship can make life difficult. At the same time, life becomes radically different. Our struggles and pains become different struggles and pains. The reason for this is that we are no longer living our struggles and pains alone. Following Jesus indeed means that we live it in companionship with the One who understands us fully -- our guide, fellow traveler, the One in whom we can trust our whole life.

-- Henri J. M. Nouwen in “A Spirituality of Homecoming”


Thursday, August 16, 2018


“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20 NIV)

It is amazing how few Christians today have claimed the power of the indwelling Lord. They believe in Him as Savior but side-step His lordship over their inner hearts.

In his book “Can I Know God?” W. E. Sangster put it pointedly. “It is not enough to have Christ near to us. Oh, it is wonderful, of course, in contrast with not even believing in His existence at all or knowing Him only as a name, but, for the highest spiritual life, it is not enough. You see, we do most of our living inside us. Our thinking, feeling, and willing are all within. External events press upon us, but they have meaning only by our internal interpretation. We discover that when we are dealing with the troubles of life. The important thing is not what happens to us but what happens in us. The same thing can happen to two different people and a precisely different thing happens in them… If, therefore, we are to be helped in our battle against temptation and in our war with fear and worry, selfishness and greed, we must have help within. Not there, but here! Not outside, but inside.”

-- Lloyd J. Ogilvie in “If God Cares, Why Do I Still Have Problems?”