Friday, August 30, 2019


“You believe there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that -- and shudder.”  (James 2:19 NIV)

God doesn't just want us to have good theology; He wants us to know and love Him.

-- Francis Chan in “The Francis Chan Collection: Crazy Love, Forgotten God, Erasing Hell, and Multiply”


Thursday, August 29, 2019


Jesus prayed, "Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son may glorify You. For You granted Him authority over all people that He might give eternal life to all those You have given Him. Now this is eternal life: that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent." (John 17:1-3 NIV)

It certainly has been a blessing being on an NFL team and competing at this level. But as rewarding as that is, it's not nearly as rewarding as having a relationship with Jesus Christ. There's no other way to live. This is a mission field, because guys need to be reached. A lot of guys are hurting because they've bought into the big lie that they need more and more money, and more and more fame. But a lot of them are empty when they find out this isn't true.

-- Mark Brunell, former NFL Quarterback, in Sports Spectrum magazine


Wednesday, August 28, 2019


"The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him." (Nahum 1:7 NIV)

It is a blessed thing to find refuge in this turbulent world. There seem to be more people against you instead of for you on any given day or situation. And the truth is that many people seem to be looking for the edge to get over on someone or some situation. The world is indeed a dangerous arena to face. We need a place to run and hide and find solace from the storms that engulf our world. Indeed we must discover this little "secret refuge" or we continue to face the waves alone and end up battered and wounded…

Do you want to be a friend or a foe of God? Only a fool would choose the latter. Notice the key in seeking the refuge of God is that we trust Him… If we have some little (or big) area of our life in which we have failed to give it totally to God we find ourselves missing one of the most wonderful blessings of God - refuge in His arms…

Enjoy the refuge God so freely offers and take a respite from this world. But don't forget to tell your friends of this wonderful and blessed place to hide from the troubles of the world - at least for a little while to recharge!

-- Pastor Gary Stone


Tuesday, August 27, 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. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith --  and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”  (Ephesians 2:4-8 NIV)

I recently walked through an old cemetery in northern Wisconsin and came across one of the oldest graves there, likely dating back to the latter half of the 1800’s. It was marked with a white, vertical headstone. Most of the writing was no longer legible -- name, birth date, death date. But what was still legible, written in a large, cursive font, were the words “Saved By Faith.” What a lasting testimony to this pioneer’s faith. His soul was “alive with Christ” even though his body was long dead and buried.

I know nothing about this person, except for this enduring witness. But it did give me pause, as I stood there before this old grave, as to what I might want for my epitaph. It may very well be “Saved By Faith.”

-- David T. Wilkinson


Monday, August 26, 2019


Jesus said to Peter and Andrew, "Follow Me, and I will turn you into fishers of people."  (Matthew 4:19 NET Bible)

To be effective fishers of people, we must offer the only effective net -- the gospel of Jesus Christ. To those who are perishing, the message of the cross is foolishness, but to us, it is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18). The gospel message has the power to change lives, to shine light into darkness, and to save souls. There is power in no other message and no other “net” can catch the fish of God. “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile” (Romans 1:16). This was Jesus’ message to Peter and Andrew -- follow Me, learn from Me, know and understand My mission and My message. Only then will you be able to be fishers of people.

-- Adapted from


Friday, August 23, 2019


“When you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”  (Mark 11:25 NLT)

One of my teachers had each one of us bring a clear plastic bag and a sack of potatoes to class. For every person we'd refuse to forgive in our life, we were told to choose a potato, write on it the name and date, and put it in the plastic bag. Some of our bags, as you can imagine, were quite heavy.

We were then told to carry this bag with us everywhere for one week, putting it beside our bed at night, on the car seat when riding, next to our desk at school.

The hassle of lugging this around with us made it clear what a weight we were carrying spiritually, and how we had to pay attention to it all the time so we wouldn't forget, and keep leaving it in embarrassing places.

Naturally, the condition of the potatoes deteriorated to a nasty slime. This was a great metaphor for the price we pay for keeping our pain and heavy negativity!

Too often we think of forgiveness as a gift to the other person, and while that's true, it clearly is also a gift for ourselves!

-- Unknown  (from a subscriber in Wisconsin)


Thursday, August 22, 2019


“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 3:16 NRSV)

God has communicated to men and women through His Word -- the Bible. The Bible is the final authority in all matters of faith and conduct. Through the Scriptures you can get to know God better, understand His desire for your life, and discover new truths about living for Him. God commands believers to let His Word dwell richly in them. So it is necessary to give yourself wholeheartedly to allowing God’s Word to fill your life. God places great emphasis on the act of meditating on His Word because effective meditation leads to understanding and personal application. Meditation and application will not only help you get into the Bible, but will also allow the Bible to get into you.

-- from “Growing Strong in God’s Family: A Course in Personal Discipleship to Strengthen Your Walk with God”


Wednesday, August 21, 2019


“Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands!
Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing.
Know that the Lord, He is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
For the Lord is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations.”  (Psalm 100 NKJV)

The act of worship rehearses in the present the end that lies ahead. Heaven is introduced into the present. It also, of course, conserves the past and so acts as a stabilizing force, but its dynamic function is anticipation: a community planning its future in the light of its character.

-- Eugene Peterson in “Reversed Thunder”


Tuesday, August 20, 2019


“The Lord is my shepherd…”  (Psalm 23:1)

A famous actor was an after dinner speaker at a big fund raising function; and apparently he was well known for his voice because when he stood up to speak, he invited his audience to choose a poem for him to recite. There was a long silence until an older preacher raised his hand and asked for Psalm 23.

The actor was slightly taken aback, but agreed to read the Psalm provided the preacher recite it after him; which the old man reluctantly agreed to do. So the actor recited Psalm 23 and received a standing ovation.

Then the preacher recited the Psalm, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Upon seeing this reaction from the crowd, the actor went over to the older preacher and said to the guests “Do you know the difference between his version and mine? I know the 23rd Psalm; but this man knows the Shepherd.”

The difference between the two men in that story is that one knew about the Lord and the other knew the Lord. The reason why the old preacher’s recitation of the psalm moved people more than the actor’s is that it was obvious to them that the old preacher was not simply going through the motions but was actually familiar with the Shepherd of whom he spoke.

-- Author Unknown


Monday, August 19, 2019


“Be still and know that I am God.”  (Psalm 46:10a)

The ancient desert dwellers of our early Christian communities tell us that the surest way into the heart of God is to be still. In being still we learn to be attentive to the vast and hidden stillness that permeates all things.

So I invite you to begin by becoming attentive to that stillness as well. Seek it first in your own home. Go at night into the darkened room of your sleeping child and breathe with the moist, quick risings of a child's breath. Rise in the thin light of a new day. Do not turn on the lamp or the television or the coffee maker, but stand by an east window and let the dawn's fingers creep up over the fingers of your own hand.

Listen next for stillness as you venture out of doors. Hear it in the splintering of fall leaves as you cross a grassy knoll between paths in the park. Find it in the first cape of snow draped over the eaves of your house.

Turn finally to your own heart. The same stillness is there as well. At the core, buried beneath the turbulence of emotions rubbed raw by life's labor, is the same stillness discovered in the slow-moving sap of an autumn tree. In that primordial stillness beats the heart of God.

There is correspondence between our hearts and God's. They have imprinted on them the same unimaginable hope, sealed with a promise. The hope is for fullness, for completion, for being one with each other. What that will look like is hidden from us. The end and fullness of all things is known only to God. But we have glimpses of it.

-- Wendy M. Wright in “The Vigil: Keeping Watch in the Season of Christ's Coming” (Nashville, Tenn.: Upper Room Books, 1992)


Friday, August 16, 2019


“Your Word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.”  (Psalm 119:105 NLT)

My friend Danny went spelunking in the caves of Iowa.  The man guiding took him deep underground, then said he would lead Danny through a passageway into a spectacular chamber.  The passageway was small enough that Danny had to stoop at first.  Then as it grew still smaller, he had to get on his hands and knees.  Eventually the only way to go forward was to lay on his back and push his body forward with his feet.  Then the ceiling was so low that when he inhaled he could not move at all!  He had to stop, inhale, and exhale, and only then was his chest low enough to allow him to move.  By this point it was physically impossible to back out.  If the passageway had gotten any smaller they would have lain there and died in that cave.

Danny is a sky-diving, mountain-climbing, hang-gliding thrill-seeker, but there in that cave he felt sheer panic.  He was terrified.  He tried fighting his fear, but he kept picturing his dead body moldering in the cave.  Finally, he told his guide he was about to lose it, and the guide said, “Danny, close your eyes and listen to my voice.  I will keep talking, calmly, and guide you through this.  We will be okay.  I have been here before.  I will get you to the other side.  But you must listen to my voice.  It will not work for you to let your thoughts run wild.  Just focus on my voice.”

Danny did so.  What freed him from panic and fear was not trying hard to quit thinking fearful thoughts.  It was listening to another voice.

What voice do you listen to when you’re in the cave and it’s dark, when the ceiling is low and you can’t back out?  The Spirit longs to flow in our minds all the time.  One reason why people have found memorizing Scripture helpful is that it helps us listen to the voice of our guide when we are in the cave.  We set our minds on those thoughts that equip us for life.

-- John Ortberg in “The Me I Want To Be”


Thursday, August 15, 2019


One missionary who worked in the island nation of Haiti for many years put his finger on the distinction between life and the sad absence of significance. He was talking with a visiting pastor about his agricultural school and vocational training ministry. “You are doing a great work by helping people survive in these difficult circumstances,” the pastor observed.

“Survive?” the missionary responded with a wry smile. “Why, it doesn’t take anything to survive. The challenge of the gospel is to teach people how to thrive!”

Jesus’ ministry was -- and is -- all about the difference between scraping out an existence and living in the fullness that is always God’s intention. “I came that they may have life, “Jesus said, “and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)

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


Wednesday, August 14, 2019


“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God -- this is your true and proper worship. 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 12:1-2 NIV)

Paul never intended faith or trust to be devoid of right living. His words on being made right with God through Jesus Christ always point to a radical transformation of human nature and conduct.

-- Richard and Julia Wilke in “DISCIPLE: Remember Who You Are”


Tuesday, August 13, 2019


“Those who heed the Word wisely will find good, and whoever trusts in the Lord, happy are they.”  (Proverbs 16:20)

The happiness which brings enduring worth to life is not the superficial happiness that is dependent on circumstances. It is the happiness and contentment that fills the soul even in the midst of the most distressing circumstances and the most bitter environment. It is the kind of happiness that grins when things go wrong and smiles through the tears. The happiness for which our souls ache is one undisturbed by success or failure, one which will deeply root inside us and give us inward relaxation, peace, and contentment, no matter what the surface problems may be. That kind of happiness stands in need of no outward stimulus.

-- Billy Graham


Monday, August 12, 2019


“For God says, ‘At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.’ Indeed, the ‘right time’ is now. Today is the day of salvation.”  (2 Corinthians 6:12 NLT)

God will use your life right now.

Following Christ, participating in the purpose of God, being used by God begins now.  You need not become better; you need not develop perfect skills; you do not have to know all the answers to life's hard questions, not even all of your own answers.  God accepts you as you are and begins to use you where you are -- "warts and all."  The will of God for your life is here and now.

Walk into your future with the confidence that God has claimed you.  The pathway into active partnership lies beneath your next step.

-- Ben Campbell Johnson in “Calming the Restless Spirit


Thursday, August 8, 2019


“From the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, until his thirty-second year -- twelve years -- neither I nor my brothers ate the food allotted to the governor... Instead, I devoted myself to the work on this wall. All my men were assembled there for the work; we did not acquire any land... I never demanded the food allotted to the governor, because the demands were heavy on these people. Remember me with favor, my God, for all I have done for these people.”  (Nehemiah 5:14-19 NIV)

One of the downsides of leadership is the sacrifice often required of leaders. Being a leader means sacrificing time, money, and possessions that are dear to our hearts…

When our sacrifices as spiritual leaders are rooted as much as possible in unselfishness (of course most still have mixed motivations), they lead others to sacrifice. But more important, they lead others to selflessness -- and that is the ultimate goal of true sacrifice. True sacrifice, even in small ways, leads people to become less selfish and self-focused, and more selfless in their love for others. The sacrifice of leaders becomes the ground that allows other leaders and the church to become increasingly focused on outreach to others through ministry and mission. Sacrifice for God in our leadership leads others to experience God’s purpose, presence, and power in our lives. It leads them to serve God the Creator, Christ, and Holy Spirit.

-- N. Graham Standish in “Becoming a Blessed Church: Forming a Church of Spiritual Purpose, Presence. And Power”


Wednesday, August 7, 2019


“Whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”  (Colossians 3:17 NLT)

Spirituality encompasses all of life. It is not something that belongs in a special compartment, separated from the rest of life -- work, school, family, and so on. Instead, one's beliefs, values, and actions should compose a single fabric. Spirituality has to do with one's basic sense of what life is all about. If life is more than just a futile exercise that leads to death and decay in the grave, then faith in God must affect everyday decisions and, most important, relationships.

-- Craig Kennet Miller in “Encounters with Jesus”


Tuesday, August 6, 2019


“By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith…By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going… And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered Him faithful who had made the promise.”  (Hebrews 11:7-11 NIV)

When you live by faith, it often feels like you are risking your reputation.  You’re not.  You’re risking God’s reputation.  It’s not your faith that is on the line.  It’s His faithfulness.  Why?  Because God is the one who made the promise, and He is the only one who can keep it.  The battle doesn’t belong to you; it belongs to God.  And because the battle doesn’t belong to you, neither does the glory.  God answers prayer to bring glory to His name, the name that is above all names.

-- Mark Batterson in “The Circle Maker”


Monday, August 5, 2019


“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”  (Hebrews 11:1 NRSV)

Nothing is more difficult, when we see our faith derided by the whole world, than to direct our speech to God only, and to rest satisfied with this testimony which our conscience gives us, THAT HE IS OUR GOD.  And certainly it is an undoubted proof of genuine faith, when, however sore the assaults by which we are shaken, we hold fast this as a fixed principle, that we are constantly under the protection of God, and can say to Him freely, THOU ART MY GOD.

-- John Calvin


Friday, August 2, 2019


“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”  (Psalm 23:1 NKJV)

Perhaps the figure of the shepherd and the flock may mean little to the modern city dweller. Yet, if ever a people of this earth resembled a flock of frightened sheep it is now. Governments are afraid of each other. People are afraid of their government, of other people, and of themselves.

This Psalm of David has sung its way across the barriers of time, race, and language. For twenty-five centuries it has been treasured in the hearts of people. Today it is more beloved than ever before.

The reason it lives? Not just because it is great literature. Because it tells that above all the strife and fears, the hungers and weaknesses of mankind, there is a Shepherd -- a Shepherd who knows His sheep one by one, who is abundantly able to provide, who guides and protects, and at the close of the day opens the door to the sheepfold -- the house not made with hands.

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”  (Psalm 23:6 NKJV)

-- Charles L. Allen in “The Twenty-Third Psalm: An Interpretation”


Thursday, August 1, 2019


“For the LORD your God is God of gods and LORD of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.”  (Deuteronomy 10:17 NIV)

In saying God is there, we are saying God exists, and not just talking about the word God, or the idea God. We are speaking of the proper relationship to the living God who exists.  In order to understand the problems of our generation, we should be very alive to this distinction.  Semantics (linguistic analysis) makes up the heart of modern philosophical study in the Anglo-Saxon world.  Though the Christian cannot accept this study as a total philosophy, there is no reason why he should not be glad for the concept that words need to be defined before they can be used in communication.  As Christians, we must understand that there is no word so meaningless as the word "god" until it is defined. No word has been used to reach absolutely opposite concepts as much as the word "god".  Consequently, let us not be confused. There is much "spirituality" about us today that would relate itself to the word god or to the idea god; but this is not what we are talking about.  Biblical truth and spirituality is not a relationship to the word god, or to the idea god.  It is a relationship to the One who is there, which is an entirely different concept.

-- Francis A. Schaeffer in “The God Who is There”