Friday, June 28, 2019


“He leads me beside still waters.”  (Psalm 23:2 NKJV)

God leads us. He tells us what we need to know when we need to know it. As another New Testament writer would affirm: “We will find grace to help us when we need it.” (Hebrews 4:16 NLT)

Listen to a different translation: “Let us therefore boldy approach the throne of our gracious God, where we may receive mercy and in His grace find timely help.” (Hebrews 4:16 NEB)

God’s help is timely. He helps us the same way a father gives plane tickets to his family. When I travel with my kids, I carry all our tickets in my satchel. When the moment comes to board the plane, I stand between the attendant and the child. As each daughter passes, I place a ticket in her hand. She, in turn, gives the ticket to the attendant. Each one receives the ticket in the nick of time.

What I do for my daughters God does for you. He places Himself between you and the need. And at the right time, He gives you the ticket…

God leads us. God will do the right thing at the right time. And what a difference that makes.

Since I know His provision is timely, I can enjoy the present [without worry.]

-- Max Lucado in “Traveling Light: Releasing the Burdens You Were Never Meant to Bear”


Thursday, June 27, 2019


“Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.”  (Proverbs 25:28 NIV)

Self-control… is a governance or prudent control of one’s desire, cravings, impulses, emotions, and passions. It is saying no when we should say no. It is moderation in legitimate desires and activities, and absolute restraint in areas that are clearly sinful.

Self-control is unpopular in many circles. Our culture offers many temptations and encourages us to fulfill our desires. Go ahead, experience it. Buy it. Try it. It’s your right. You’ve earned it.

Most of us recognize boundaries that tend to restrain us from obvious sins, but otherwise we pretty much live as we please. Knowing it is easy for us to say yes instead of no, and indulge sinful desires, God emphasizes self-control repeatedly. It is even listed as a fruit of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23). You see, this self-control is not control by our own willpower, but rather control through the Holy Spirit’s power.

-- Jerry Bridges in “Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate,” Discussion Guide by Stephen Sorenson


Wednesday, June 26, 2019


“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  (Matthew 28:19-20 NIV)

Discipleship means living one day at a time as though Jesus were near: near in time, near in place, the witness of our motives, our speech, our behavior. As indeed He is.

-- Brennan Manning


Tuesday, June 25, 2019


“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... through faith.”  (Ephesians 2:4,5,8a NIV)

I confess that I am an unreconstructed optimist. Not a naïve one; I’ve lived too long for that, long enough to have experienced a resounding case of pessimism. I have vivid memories of the Great Depression, and I’ve lived through several wars and those international anomalies that we call police actions. I’ve watched what has seemed to me to be a rather steady decline in both public and private morals and a growing confusion about ethics. And of course, I’ve watched the increasing prevalence of both evil and inanity (sometimes they’re synonymous) on television and the Internet.

But, there is God. And because there is God, there is goodness. I profoundly believe that God is at work in our world and that our planet has not yet been written off as a lost cause. History seems to tell me that though our human race appears so often to dedicate itself to its own destruction [see Ephesians 2:1-3], God is always at work -- usually, I think, behind the scenes. And because of God, faith, love, and goodness keep being reborn.

-- J. Ellsworth Kalas in “Life from the Upside: Seeing God at Work in the World”


Monday, June 24, 2019


“Moses said, ‘I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.’ When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, ‘Moses, Moses!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’”  (Exodus 3:3-4 NRSV)

[Pay] attention to the many ways in which God acts in our lives and in the world. God leaves metaphorical breadcrumbs that lead us along a path of God's choosing if we're paying attention. Learn to notice the gifts God gave you and watch the way your own life story is developing if you want to know more about God's will for you. God may not put a burning bush in your path, but there will be plenty of other clues about what God may want you to do or be.

-- Debra Farrington in "Alive Now" Magazine, published by The Upper Room, Nashville, TN.   Used with permission.


Friday, June 21, 2019


“In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”  (Judges 21:25)

Many times over in the Book of Judges God has shown Israel how He sees things. He urges them to live according to His ways, to do what is right in God’s eyes. But continually they instead do what is right in their eyes, according to how they see things.

It was a hot summer afternoon on the Los Angeles freeway.  I was driving along, when suddenly, in the middle lane was a pickup truck, going about 50 mph, with a makeshift swimming pool in the bed of the truck.  Three children were having the time of their lives, yelling and splashing.

The next morning in the newspaper there was a photo of the truck, wet children, and an embarrassed driver being handed a traffic citation.  The driver was quoted as saying, "It was so hot and the kids were having so much fun, I just hated to stop them."

Everybody in that truck thought they were free to do whatever they wanted -- what was right in their eyes.  Well, I know this: Freedom is not doing what we please; it's pleasing God in what we do. It’s doing what is right in God’s eyes.

-- adapted from Luci Swindoll in “Extravagant Grace”


Thursday, June 20, 2019


“But the Lord 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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”  (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV)

My prayer is, “God, take my broken pieces and remold them into what seems best to You.”

The question is whether or not we are willing to let the cracks show. For some of us, nothing could be more unthinkable. We want to airbrush any mistakes or flaws or scars.

But God looks at our brokenness much more like something called Kintsugi. This is a ceramic restoration process developed in Japan in the fifteen hundreds. Broken pieces are sealed together, but instead of hiding the cracks, the cracks are boldly highlighted and traced over with gold.

Normally anything broken that has been refurbished sells at a discount, but not Kintsugi pottery. Most often, the ceramic piece actually turns out to be more beautiful and more valuable than before it was broken. In fact, many collectors have been accused of deliberately breaking prized ceramics so they could be made whole with gold. That sounds a lot like the economy in the kingdom of heaven. The broken are the most valuable.

This is the redeeming power of God through Jesus Christ. When we finally come to the end of ourselves and give God the broken pieces, He can make us whole.

-- Kyle Idleman in “The End of Me: Where Real Life in the Upside-Down Ways of Jesus Begins”


Wednesday, June 19, 2019


“Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”  (Jeremiah 33:3 NKJV)

Prayer is not a one-way conversation where you simply recite everything you want God to do for you. It is a two-way fellowship and communication. You speak to God, and He speaks to you. Prayer also includes listening. In fact, what God says to you in prayer is far more important than what you say to Him. After all, God already knows what you’re going to tell Him, but He has amazing things to reveal that you don’t know.

Prayer is a relationship, not a religious activity. Through prayer, you adjust to God; God doesn’t adjust to you. He wants you to pray, but He doesn’t need you to. You, however, need to pray because of what God wants to do in your life during your prayer time.

When the Holy Spirit reveals a truth to you in prayer, He is present and actively working in your life. This kind of prayer is a divine encounter.

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


Tuesday, June 18, 2019


“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost."  (Luke 19:10 NIV)

In God's benevolent economy, the church… provides a place of solace, a hotbed of godly values, a stage for spirited worship, an organism of relationships, and all the bountiful benefits Christians enjoy. But the church isn't the church so that we Christians can experience those perks. The church is the church so that other people can meet Jesus Christ and be captured by the Spirit and be incorporated into the Kingdom for eternity. A church exists, like Jesus, "to seek and to save the lost." The church is not in the business of coddling the cozy but rather of finding the fallen, and will inconvenience itself in order to reach out. The church exists to do what Jesus valued -- and did, Himself.

-- James D. Berkley in a sermon at First Presbyterian Church in Bellevue, Washington


Monday, June 17, 2019


“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God -- what is good and acceptable and perfect.”  (Romans 12:2 NRSV)

The invasion of the Church by the world is a menace to the extension of Christ's Kingdom.  In all ages conformity to the world by Christians has resulted in lack of spiritual life and a consequent lack of spiritual vision and enterprise.  A secularized or self-centered Church can never evangelize the world.

-- John R. Mott


Friday, June 14, 2019


“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."  (Matthew 18:19-20 NIV)

Our motivation for living the Christian life is the love of the Father. Our model in life is the example of the Son. The means by which we live this life is the power of the Holy Spirit.

-- The Alpha Course


Thursday, June 13, 2019


“This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of His body, the church.”  (Ephesians 4:13-15 NLT)

To be tossed and blown about, [or “to and fro” as another version reads,] means to fluctuate or roll up and down with the waves. Following a prevailing current will take you places you never want to go -- from bell-bottoms to bad behavior. Children get caught in the undertow of peer pressure. Maturity equips us to go against the flow!

-- Lenya Heitzig and Penny Pierce Rose in “Pathway to God’s Treasure"


Wednesday, June 12, 2019


“So [the son] got up and went to his father. 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.”  (Luke 11:20 NIV)

“Like the father of the Prodigal Son, God can see repentance coming a great way off and is there to meet it. The repentance is the reconciliation.”  (Dorothy L. Sayers)

“Today we need to learn what it means to repent, to convert, to seek forgiveness; to learn how merciful the Father is to those who truly come home and ask His forgiveness.  Unfortunately today there are all too few who come home; and if they do they come home to argue with the Father, and defend their way of life rather than to recognize it as sin.  Or worse they stay at a distance, like the proud elder brother who values earthly goods more than the love of anyone, and in the midst of moral and even physical ruin remains defiant to the last. It is always the time for the alienated, the prodigal, the lost to come home, to recognize the Eternal Love of the Father who did not spare His only Son, that we might be forgiven and have a new life in Him.”  (Rev. Mark A. Pilon)


Tuesday, June 11, 2019


“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  (Matthew 6:34 NIV)

There are two days in the week upon which, and about which I do not worry -- two carefree days kept sacredly free from fear and apprehension. One of these days is Yesterday, with its cares and frets and pains and aches, all its faults, its mistakes and blunders, has passed forever beyond my recall. It was mine; it is God's.

The other day that I do not worry about is Tomorrow. Tomorrow, with all its possible adversities, its burdens, its perils, its large promise and performance, its failures and mistakes, is as far beyond my mastery as its dead sister, Yesterday. Tomorrow is God's Day; it will be mine.

There is left, then, for myself but one day in the week -- Today. Any person can fight the battles of today. Any woman can carry the burdens of just one day; any man can resist the temptations of today. It is only when we willfully add the burdens of these two awful eternities -- Yesterday and Tomorrow -- such burdens as only the Mighty God can sustain -- that we break down.

It isn't the experience of Today that drives people mad. It is the remorse of what happened Yesterday and the fear of what Tomorrow might bring. These are God's Days -- leave them to Him.

-- Unknown, quoted by Doris W. Greig in “We Didn't Know They Were Angels”


Monday, June 10, 2019


“But now, O Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You our potter; and all we are the work of Your hand.”  (Isaiah 64:8 NKJV)

Worship describes those times we gather deliberately seeking to encounter God in Christ. We cultivate our relationship with God and with one another as the people of God. We don't attend worship to squeeze God into our lives; we seek to meld our lives into God's. It's a time to think less about ourselves and more about faith, less about our personal agendas and more about God's will. We encounter a fresh vision of God's reality in Christ so that God's Spirit can reshape our lives and form us into the Body of Christ.

Comprehending the meaning of worship requires looking beyond what people do to see with the eyes of faith what God does. God uses worship to transform lives, heal wounded souls, renew hope, shape decisions, provoke change, inspire compassion, and bind people to one another. God through Christ actively seeks relationship to us through worship.

-- Robert Schnase in “Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations”


Friday, June 7, 2019


"After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly." (Acts 4:31)

Without Pentecost the Christ-event -- the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus -- remains imprisoned in history as something to remember, think about and reflect on. The Spirit of Jesus comes to dwell within us, so that we can become living Christs here and now.

-- Henri Nouwen


Thursday, June 6, 2019


“Only God's Spirit gives new life. The Spirit is like the wind that blows wherever it wants to. You can hear the wind, but you don't know where it comes from or where it is going.”  (John 3:8 CEV)

We feel the breath of the wind upon our cheeks, we see the dust and the leaves blowing before the wind, we see the vessels at sea driven swiftly towards their ports; but the wind itself remains invisible. Just so with the Spirit; we feel His breath upon our souls, we see the mighty things He does, but Himself we do not see. He is invisible, but He is real and perceptible.

-- R. A. Torrey in “The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit”


Wednesday, June 5, 2019


"Thou, Lord, hast helped me, and comforted me."  (Psalm 86:17)

When I was growing up, my Mother's mending basket, laden with torn socks from a husband and seven children, waited by the green chair under a lamp in the living room.  In the evenings she would sit there, sock pulled over a darning egg, and skillfully repair the holes with soft thread.  When she was finished, the sock had a new heel or toe that was stronger than the original.

After I got married, Mother gave me a darning egg and thread to mend Whitney's socks.  I tried, but the holes bunched into knots.  I didn't have Mother's skill, so I threw away the old socks and bought new ones.  But I kept the darning egg, a wooden contraption with a handle.  It reminds me of the holes -- the losses -- in my life that nothing but God can fill.

Our triplets, Whitney, Jr., Patrick and Douglas, were born prematurely in 1970.  One after the other, at different times and from different causes, they died.  Staring into that awful hole of loss drove me to God.  As I sat in His presence, I felt, slowly, threads of comfort weaving through my pain, tugging at me to accept what I could not understand.  The pain has never entirely gone away.  But I've come through it patched with God's strength and woven with the certain hope that my loss is temporary: My three boys are safe and loved on the other shore.

"Comforter, in Jesus, our loss -- God's loss -- is turned to gain.  Thank You for consoling me."

-- Shari Smyth


Tuesday, June 4, 2019


“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”  (Psalm 23:4 NKJV)

Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse [long-time pastor of Philadelphia's Tenth Presbyterian Church] told of the occasion of his first wife’s death. He and his [young] children were driving from the burial, overcome with grief. He searched for a word of comfort to offer but could think of nothing. Just then, a large moving van drove by. As it passed, the shadow of the truck swept over the car. An inspiration came to Dr. Barnhouse. He turned to his family and asked, “Children, would you rather be run over by a truck or by its shadow?”

The children said, “Well, of course, Dad, we’d rather be run over by the shadow. That can’t hurt us at all.”

Dr. Barnhouse explained, “Did you know that two thousand years ago the truck of death ran over the Lord Jesus… in order that only its shadow might run over us?”

We face death, but thanks to Jesus, we only face its shadow.

-- Max Lucado in “Traveling Light”


Monday, June 3, 2019


"They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”  (Acts 2:42, 46, 47 NIV)

1. We're joined together by something greater than our personal preferences or life circumstances. We don’t get to choose our family, and similarly, we don’t get to choose our church family. We are made God’s children through the Holy Spirit the moment we are saved (Romans 8:15-17). Families are bound by blood, just as Christians are bound by the blood Jesus shed on the cross for us.

2. We have our own traditions and celebrations that are passed down from generation to generation. My family has traditions for every major holiday. Dad always carves the turkey. Grandma makes sweet potato pie, and we always watch "A Christmas Story" on Christmas day. It’s almost a ritual. Likewise, the church has traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation. The Lord’s Supper, or communion, is a great example. For thousands of years, the Church has celebrated communion to remember that Jesus died for our sins on the cross (Matthew 26:26-28).

3. We don't always get along, but that doesn't stop us from having each other's back. Brothers and sisters fight. They get mad at each other, especially during the holidays. But if our siblings get hurt by someone else, we get protective. This happens in the church, too. We are going to make mistakes, and we choose to love each other enough to hold each other accountable for our behavior. That’s having each other’s back.

4. We get fed constantly, whether we're hungry or not. Every mom wants to make sure you’ve been fed. It doesn’t matter if you just had your second helping at a holiday dinner or not, they will make sure you got enough. Your church family wants to serve you in the same way at church. From daily devotionals. to serving opportunities. to small groups, to Sunday worship, there are a number of ways to be spiritually fed and grow in your relationship with Jesus.

-- Jason Far, adapted