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”