Thursday, May 31, 2018


“Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to Him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?”  (Matthew 6:26,27)

When we are immobilized by little things -- when we are irritated, annoyed and easily bothered -- our (over-) reactions not only make us frustrated but actually get in the way of getting what we want. We lose sight of the bigger picture, focus on the negative, and annoy other people who might otherwise help us. In short, we live our lives as if they were one big emergency! We often rush around looking busy, trying to solve problems, but in reality, we are often compounding them. Because everything seems like a big deal, we end up spending our lives dealing with one drama after another. After a while, we begin to believe that everything really is a big deal. We fail to recognize that the way we relate to our problems has a lot to do with how quickly and efficiently we solve them.

-- Richard Carlson, Ph.D., in “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff… and it’s all small stuff”



God wants to know if we’re willing to give up what we love to Him who loves us more. He desires for us to open our fists and trust Him with absolutely everything.

Saying yes to God is an act of love and worship. When we surrender to Him, we acknowledge that He knows what’s best for us and that everything we have belongs to Him. Our posture is open-handed, enabling us to receive God’s many blessings -- blessings that enable us to know and experience Him every day.

-- Lysa TerKeurst


Wednesday, May 30, 2018


The concept that Christ, working through His people, can be the transformer of culture strikes at the heart of Jesus' words in Matthew 5:13-16 where Jesus tells us that we, His followers, are to be salt and light.  Salt transforms the physical properties of that which it touches.  It brings out the goodness in food and was used as a preservative that kept meats from spoiling.  It is essential for life and it has certain healing properties.  Jesus had all of this and more in mind when He challenged His followers to be salt.  Imagine the impact that the church -- and we as individual Christians -- might have on our culture if we were truly being the salt of the earth!  What would this look like?  And what of light?  We are called to be the light of the world -- a city set upon a hill that cannot be hidden.  A flashlight illuminates the right path through the woods on a dark night, showing the potential pitfalls along the way.  A lighthouse offers guidance and warning to keep the ships from certain peril.  A night-light brings comfort to my daughter as she goes to sleep each night.  Daylight allows us to see the world as it really is.  There seems to be no shortage of dark places in our world -- where the blind seem to lead the blind, or where people live in fear, or are in constant danger of shipwreck.  How important that there should be beacons of light, showing compassion, care, and a purposeful and illuminated life for others to see.

-- Adam Hamilton in “Confronting the Controversies”


Tuesday, May 29, 2018


“My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”  (Galatians 2:20 NLT)

“I have come to see clearly that life is more than self. It is more than doing what I want, striving for what will benefit me, dreaming of all I can be. Life is all about my relationship with God. There is no higher calling, no loftier dream, and no greater goal than to live, breathe, and be poured out for Jesus Christ." (Jamie in Brother Andrew's "The Calling”)

-- Brother Andrew in “The Narrow Road: Stories of Those Who Walk This Road Together”


Friday, May 25, 2018


“Who is like You, Lord God Almighty? You, Lord, are mighty, and Your faithfulness surrounds You.”  (Psalm 89:8 NIV)

There comes a moment when you must quit talking to God about the mountain in your life and start talking to the mountain about your God. You proclaim His power. You declare His sovereignty. You affirm His faithfulness. You stand on His Word. You cling to His promises.

-- Mark Batterson in “Draw the Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge”


Thursday, May 24, 2018


“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.”  (John 15:4 ESV)

We rest in Christ, find our nourishment in Him. His roof of grace protects us from storms of guilt. His walls of providence secure us from destructive winds. His fireplace warms us during the lonely winters of life. We linger in the abode of Christ and never leave.

-- Max Lucado in “Anxious for Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World"


Wednesday, May 23, 2018


“Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Don't be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”  (Isaiah 41:10 NLT)

One tribe of native Americans had a unique practice for training young braves. On the night of a boy's thirteenth birthday, he was placed in a dense forest to spend the entire night alone. Until then he had never been away from the security of his family and tribe. But on this night he was blindfolded and taken miles away. When he took off the blindfold, he was in the middle of thick woods. By himself. All night long.

Every time a twig snapped, he probably visualized a wild animal ready to pounce. Every time an animal howled, he imagined a wolf leaping out of the darkness. Every time the wind blew, he wondered what more sinister sound it masked. No doubt it was a terrifying night for many.

After what seemed like an eternity, the first rays of sunlight entered the interior of the forest. Looking around, the boy saw flowers, trees, and the outline of the path. Then, to his utter astonishment, he beheld the figure of a man standing just a few feet away, armed with a bow and arrow. It was the boy's father. He had been there all night long.

Can you think of any better way for a child to learn how God allows us to face the tests of life? God is always present with us. God's presence is unseen, but it is more real than life itself.

-- Leonard Sweet in “SoulSalsa"


Tuesday, May 22, 2018


“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.  (Proverbs 17:22 NIV)

Mirth is God's medicine. Everybody ought to bathe in it. Grim care, moroseness, anxiety -- all this rust of life -- ought to be scoured off by the oil of mirth.

-- Henry Ward Beecher


Monday, May 21, 2018


Jesus says [to Nicodemus], "The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.  So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit." (John 3:8)

Listen to the wind, Nicodemus.  Listen to the wind.

Again, and again, in both the Old and New Testaments, God's Spirit -- the Holy Spirit -- is described as being like the wind.  Both the Hebrew of the Old Testament (ruach) and the Greek of the New Testament (pneuma) employ a word that can mean wind, breath, or spirit.  When the writer of Genesis explains our divine origins, he tells us that God breathed into the human nostrils the breath of life (Genesis 2:7); that is, God inspirited us.  When the Holy Spirit entered our world in a new way on the Day of Pentecost, one of the manifestations of the Spirit's coming was "a sound like the rush of a violent wind" that filled the house where the believers were sitting (Acts 2:2).  Even so, when Jesus wanted Nicodemus to understand how he could be born from above, Jesus said that it was like the wind.  You might not understand it, and certainly you couldn't control it, but you could feel its reality.

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


Friday, May 18, 2018


And [Jesus] said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."  (Matthew 18:3, NIV)

I had the chance to play with my two-year-old nephew. He loves to play on a slide, so we borrowed our neighbors' jungle gym, and he made a beeline for the ladder. He got up the ladder all right, but once he sat down on the slide, he realized it was steeper than he was used to. He didn't fuss or get scared; he didn't even try to get down another way. He simply stretched out his little hands to me so I could hold onto him as he slid down.

I didn't think much of it at the time; after all, little ones are constantly asking for help. But later, it struck me that he had been a living example of the kind of trust God asks us to place in Him. There's a reason Jesus admonished the disciples to become like little children. They don't have trouble trusting. It often doesn't occur to them not to trust. God doesn't want us to tackle life's obstacles alone. He wants us to trust Him to see us through them. When we do this, we allow Him to show His strength in our lives, and we allow ourselves to live in the peace He offers.

...Trust [God] and allow Him to give you the victory that comes when we place our hands in His.

-- Laura Hepker, Christianity Online


Thursday, May 17, 2018


“Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”  (2 Peter 3:18)

As we shared together our feelings about the study groups, we realized that we were not meeting together each week for an intellectual exercise: something very real and significant was taking place.  We were coming to know that the Christian faith is not primarily an ethic; it is not the struggle to do good or be good, but an encounter with Christ, of which morality and ethical living are by-products.

-- Harold R. Fray, Jr. in “The Spirit Making New” 


Tuesday, May 15, 2018


“Your Word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”  (Psalm 119:105 NIV)

George Will writes in “Men at Work”: "Baseball umpires are carved from granite and stuffed with microchips…they are professional dispensers of pure justice.  Once when Babe Pinelli called Babe Ruth out on strikes, Ruth made a populist argument.  Ruth reasoned fallaciously (as populists do) from raw numbers to moral weight: 'There's 40,000 people here who know that last one was a ball, tomato head.' Pinelli replied with the measured stateliness of John Marshall: 'Maybe so, but mine is the only opinion that counts'."

Christians are also pressed by the weight of numbers aligned against the moral law of God.  But the Christian knows that in the end, only one opinion counts: that of the beneficent Umpire of all human affairs.

-- Mark Turnbough


Monday, May 14, 2018


“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in His grace, freely makes us right in His sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when He freed us from the penalty for our sins.”  (Romans 3:23-24 NLT)

"Truly it is an evil to be full of faults," said Pascal, "but it is a still greater evil to be full of them, and to be unwilling to recognize them."

People divide into two types: not the guilty and the "righteous," as many people think, but rather two different types of guilty people. There are guilty people who acknowledge their wrongs, and guilty ones who do not.

-- Philip Yancey in “What's So Amazing About Grace”


Friday, May 11, 2018


People often save their most important instructions, their most profound thoughts, their deepest concerns, and their most heartfelt expressions for last…

The Holy Spirit did not miss the opportunity to record the last words of Jesus before He left this earth.  And as we might expect, those words are deeply significant.  In both the Gospel of Matthew and the book of Acts, we read our Lord's parting instructions to His disciples --  and to all who follow Him -- before He was taken up from sight.

Think of it!  We have a written record of the very words the Son of God uttered before ascending to the right hand of His Father in heaven.  And these are the words -- perhaps more than any others -- that Jesus wanted to echo in His disciples' ears as He left them.

[There are many things] He didn't say…

What He did say was as clear as bright sunlight on a cloudless morning.  There was nothing obscure or hazy about His final instructions.

“Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, ‘Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’  And He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.  But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.’”  (Acts 1:6-8)

-- David Jeremiah in “Jesus' Final Warning”


Thursday, May 10, 2018


"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear… " (Psalm 46:1-2a NIV)

When I was a young child, shortly after the death of my mother, my father took me on vacation. We stayed at a small hotel overlooking a harbor. One night a storm was brewing out to sea and I watched the black clouds rolling closer toward the shore. It began to rain as I got ready for bed. My father was downstairs talking to some of the other guests, when a huge flash of lightning, followed by a deafening clap of thunder, made the lights go out. Frightened, I began to cry, wondering where my father was.

Then I heard my father’s voice calling to me as he came up the stairs. “Don’t be afraid, Joan, I’m here. Everything is all right.”

The sound of his reassuring voice took away all my fears, and his presence in the room enabled me to sleep peacefully, knowing he would protect me.

-- Joan Winmill Brown in “The Shelter of His Wings”


Wednesday, May 9, 2018


Jesus said, “As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Now remain in My love. If you keep My commands, you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commands and remain in His love. I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”  (John 15:9-11 NIV)

True joy, as it turns out, comes only to those who have devoted their lives to something greater than personal happiness. This is most visible in extraordinary lives, in saints and martyrs. But it is no less true for ordinary people like us.

-- John Ortberg in “The Life You've Always Wanted: Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People”


Tuesday, May 8, 2018


“We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  (Romans 8:37b-39 NIV)

God’s love is dependable. You can count on it. You can bet your life on it. This great characteristic of God is described in the Old Testament by the Hebrew word ‘hesed’. It is one of the primary words the Old Testament used to describe God, and this fascinating word is a forerunner of the New Testament’s ‘agape’ and ‘grace’. ‘Hesed’ is translated primarily as ‘steadfast love.’ It also has connotations of mercy and kindness, but essentially means God’s amazing faithfulness and love. It means God keeps His promises. It means that we can trust and depend on God and His love. God’s love will not let us down. Even in a world of mistrust and broken trust, even when we are unfaithful and undependable, God is dependable and trustworthy. Paul says in Romans that nothing “in all creation… will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

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


Monday, May 7, 2018


“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”  (Ephesians 4:3)

When we come together as a Church body we should rejoice in our common heritage. We must learn to put aside petty problems and refuse to give [divisiveness] any foothold. We simply must stay focused on our source of strength and hope: The Lord Jesus Christ! It is He who gives us the supernatural ability to stand arm in arm and become one. If we search too hard for common ground in other areas we form destructive cliques and we divide instead of unify.

-- Rev. Gary Stone


Friday, May 4, 2018


“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 4:6-7 NLT)

The expectation of an easy life from God has produced more agnostics and atheists than has any other false belief.  When people live faithfully but suffer pain and discomfort anyway, many turn from Christianity.  They never grasp that a healthy faith does not shield a believer from pain, but rather gives a new perspective on life and a renewed trust in God that lessens the pains of existence.  Each time a negative event occurs, God can use it to bring greater faith and deeper peace.

-- Stephen Arterburn and Jack Felton in “More Jesus, Less Religion”


Thursday, May 3, 2018


From the fifth century on, spiritual guides taught the use of the Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” The Jesus Prayer comes from two scripture sources. One is the prayer of the tax collector in the Temple: “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” (Luke 18:13). The other is the cry of the blind man by the road near Jericho who calls out to Jesus, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Luke 18:38).

A short form of the prayer is “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.” The prayer’s shortest form is simply the name Jesus. Especially in Eastern Christianity people have been taught to repeat this prayer constantly as a way of praying without ceasing. With the help of a teacher, people learn to coordinate the prayer with breathing so as to “inhale” the presence of Christ and to “exhale” all that keeps one from loving God.

--  J. David Muyskens in “Forty Days to a Closer Walk with God”


Wednesday, May 2, 2018


For God
so loved the world
that He gave His one and only Son,
that whoever believes in Him
shall not perish but have
eternal life.

A twenty-six-word parade of hope:  beginning with God, ending with life, and urging us to do the same. Brief enough to write on a napkin or memorize in a moment, yet solid enough to weather two thousand years of storms and questions. If you know nothing of the Bible, start here. If you know everything in the Bible, return here. We all need the reminder. The heart of the human problem is the heart of the human. And God’s treatment is prescribed in John 3:16.

He loves. He gave. We believe. We live.

…Believe or dismiss them, embrace or reject them, any serious consideration of Christ must include them.

-- Max Lucado in “Cast of Characters”


Tuesday, May 1, 2018


“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when He adopted you as His own children. Now we call Him, ‘Abba, Father.’”  (Romans 8:14-15 NIV)

As we go about life, either we do things that open ourselves to the Spirit’s influence in our lives -- which Paul talks about in terms of “walking in the Spirit,” or “sowing to the Spirit” -- or we do things that close ourselves off to the Spirit.  For instance, Paul wrote, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.  Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” (Galatians 5:25-26)

The Holy Spirit is always ready to guide you toward God’s best version of yourself.  Of course, many times I don’t want to be guided!  I want to blow up at someone, or be greedy, or lie to get out of trouble.  I want to quench the Spirit.  The more my habits are formed around resentment or anxiety or greed or superiority, the more often I will quench the Spirit.  It will take time and wisdom for habits to get re-formed.  But the Spirit of God is tenacious.  All that is needed in any moment is a sincere desire to be submitted to the Spirit's leading.
' -- John Ortberg in “The Me I Want to Be”