Thursday, October 31, 2019


“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”  (Ephesians 3:20-21 NKJV)

We are created in the image of an infinite God who longs to give us abundant life even more than we long to receive it; life beyond all that we can ask or think or dream.

-- Thomas R. Albin in “Alive Now”, May/June 2002, published by The Upper Room, Nashville, TN.   Used with permission.


Wednesday, October 30, 2019


Jesus said, “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”  (John 10:10 NLT)

In the story of "Braveheart," Scottish national hero William Wallace declares, “Every man dies; not every man really lives.”

Wallace was well aware of the difference between merely existing -- something he witnessed in too many men who failed to respond to the challenge of a full and engaging life -- and the wonder of actually living to their full potential. Mediocrity is a sad curse that threatens to suck the lifeblood from many people, people who might otherwise pursue lives that actually mean something beyond the day in, day out of survival.

We all know people who constantly regress to the unremarkable. We may sometimes be tempted to follow the path ourselves. It is too easy to fall into patterns of below average, develop a comfortable rhythm there, and consequently live out our lives without ever pushing any kind of envelope at all.

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


Tuesday, October 29, 2019


“Think of us in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy.”  (1 Corinthians 4:1-2 NRSV)

Time. None of us has much of it… The tree that shades the sleepy cow in the pasture may have looked down on our grandfather when he was a boy, and it may remain to watch the passing of our children's children. And that we have so small a store of time constitutes a powerful reason for our making the most of what we have. Yet how many hours have we spent doing nothing or doing the wrong thing. Our cynical waste of precious time could be a reason for our not having more of it given to us, who knows? Jesus once said, "Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost."

Time wasted is lost beyond recall. While we sympathize with the emotional content of the old song, "Backward, turn backward, O time, in your flight," it is yet hard to conceive of a more futile appeal. Time does not run backward. The old man does not become young, the young man becomes old. So it has always been and so it will ever be. The bird of time flies past us and is gone; "the leaves of life keep falling one by one, the wine of life keeps oozing drop by drop." We must work while it is called today.

-- A. W. Tozer


Monday, October 28, 2019


“Think of us in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy.”  (1 Corinthians 4:1-2 NRSV)

[Money] is an excellent gift of God, answering the noblest ends. In the hands of His children, it is food for the hungry, drink for the thirsty, raiment for the naked: It gives to the traveler and the stranger where to lay his head. By it we may supply the place of an husband to the widow, and of a father to the fatherless. We may be a defense for the oppressed, a means of health to the sick, of ease to them that are in pain; it may be as eyes to the blind, as feet to the lame; yea, a lifter up from the gates of death!

It is therefore of the highest concern that all who [revere] God know how to employ this valuable talent; that they be instructed how it may answer these glorious ends, and in the highest degree. And, perhaps, all the instructions which are necessary for this may be reduced to three plain rules, by the exact observance whereof we may approve ourselves faithful stewards… Gain all you can... Save all you can… Give all you can.

-- John Wesley in his sermon "Serving God with Mammon"


Friday, October 25, 2019


“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”  (Romans 8:1 NKJV)

The remedy for our sin, whether scandalous or acceptable, is the gospel in its widest scope. The gospel is actually a message; here I am using the word ‘gospel’ as a shorthand expression for the entire work of Christ in His historic life, death, and resurrection for us, and His present work in us through His Holy Spirit. When I say the gospel in its widest scope, I am referring to the fact that Christ, in His work for us and in us, saves us not only from the penalty of sin but also from its dominion or reigning power in our lives. This two-fold aspect of Christ’s work is beautifully captured in Augustus Toplady’s great hymn “Rock of Ages,” with the words,
            Let the water and the blood,
            From Thy riven side which flowed,
            Be of sin the double cure,
            Cleanse me from its guilt and power.

-- Jerry Bridges in “Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate”


Thursday, October 24, 2019


You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others. (2 Timothy 2:2 NLT)

One of the biggest complaints I have heard from liberal, moderate, and conservative Christians about the spiritual formation movement is that it emphasizes self-focused navel gazing. These critics complain that the study of spirituality and spiritual practices teaches people to become self-consumed rather than mission oriented. That’s not true. Spiritual formation’s detractors create a false dichotomy. Rarely do I find someone truly devoted to spiritual practices who isn’t also devoted to outreach of some kind. A relationship with God always compels us to acts of loving sacrifice. True prayer always leads to action. The real problem arises when people act without prayer, because then the focus is on themselves, not on serving God.

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


Wednesday, October 23, 2019


“The Lord has comforted His people and will have compassion on His suffering ones.” (Isaiah 49:13 NRSV)

Comfort and prosperity have never enriched the world as much as adversity. Out of pain and problems have come the sweetest songs, the most poignant poems, the most gripping stories, and inspiring lives.

Yet it is hard to think about this when troubles overwhelm us or uncertainty and fear grip our hearts. Our problems are real, and it is difficult in the heat of the moment to hear of anything else.

Our oldest daughter married a Swiss, and they often spend their summers in Switzerland. Sometimes we have visited them there and have gone soaring above the countryside on chair lifts high in the Alps. Looking down we can see almost a carpet of wild flowers, some of the most beautiful in the world. Only a few months before, those plants were buried under heavy snow. Yet that snow prepared the way for their growth -- providing them with water, and even insulating them from the winter winds. Our burdens can be like that snow, preparing the way for something beautiful once the winter is past.

-- Billy Graham


Tuesday, October 22, 2019


“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)

In his letter to the Romans (12:2) the apostle Paul writes that we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. ‘Transformed’ in Greek is ‘metamorphosis,’ which is the biological term for the change of a caterpillar into a butterfly -- change from within. We are to constantly ask God in prayer to teach us to think as He thinks; to discern that good, acceptable and perfect will of God. I know of no better way to find that out than to get into God's inspired Word. I know of no better place to do that than in small group Bible study where there is encouragement and support for the journey.

Some time ago, I learned a related word, though. It is ‘metamorphobia,’ or the fear of change. Don't be afraid to change if it is in God's direction.

-- Rev. David T. Wilkinson in a sermon entitled "Great Expectations"


Friday, October 18, 2019


“Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  (Philippians 2:9-11 NIV)

William Barclay has pointed out that “of all the titles of Jesus the title ‘Lord’ became by far the most commonly used, widespread, and theologically important. It would hardly be going too far to say that the word Lord became a synonym for the name, Jesus.” This sometimes neglected aspect of the Christian experience must be carefully considered by all men and women who want to be His disciples…

Jesus Christ, Lord of lords, has always existed and always will. Not all people allow Him to be center of their lives, but that does not alter the fact of His lordship. All will someday acknowledge Christ as Lord, but the privilege of acknowledging His lordship and allowing Him to be center of our lives is possible now. Allow Christ to be Lord of your life -- by a decision followed by daily practice.

-- from “Growing Strong in God’s Family”


Thursday, October 17, 2019


“Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 1:6)

God is alive and active, able to do what we ask. God hears and answers prayer, as our true friend. God is able to do what we imagine. He reads our thoughts and can interpret the thoughts and feelings we cannot express as we cry out to Him in distress. God is able to do all that we ask or think. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords. He knows everything and can complete the work He started in us.

“Now to Him who is able to do infinitely more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”  (Ephesians 3:20-21)

-- James Houston, quoted in “In This Quiet Place: Discovering the Pleasure of Prayer”


Wednesday, October 16, 2019


“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”  (1 Corinthians 10:31)

How do you eat and drink for the glory of God?

Paul is using the daily rituals of eating and drinking to make an all-encompassing point: even the most mundane of activities is absolutely miraculous. You take approximately 23,000 breaths every day, but when was the last time you thanked God for one of them? The process of inhaling oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide is a complicated respiratory task that requires physiological precision. We tend to thank God for the things that take our breath away. And that’s fine. But maybe we should thank Him for every other breath, too!

-- Mark Batterson in “All In”


Tuesday, October 15, 2019


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

It has been well said that no [one] ever sank under the burden of the day. It is when tomorrow’s burden is added to the burden of today that the weight is more than [one] can bear. Never load yourselves so, my friends. If you find yourselves so loaded, at least remember this: it is your own doing, not God’s. He begs you to leave the future to Him and mind the present.

-- George MacDonald in “Annals of a Quiet Neighbourhood”


Monday, October 14, 2019


"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."  (Acts 1:8 NIV)

When the word missionary is mentioned, most American Christians think of persons who serve in foreign lands.  Images come to mind of faithful servants of God who go to faraway places with the prayer and with the financial support of Christians back home.  Missionaries go to faraway places to witness for Christ to persons who have not yet embraced Jesus as Savior and Lord.  However we must expand our images of missionaries… What is a missionary?  She or he is a person who has entered into a relationship of love and commitment with Christ.  That relationship compels devoted service and witness to [unchurched] persons wherever they are.  For most American Christians, that mission field is right in their own communities.

If you are a Christian, you are a missionary.  You have a witness to make to the many persons in your realm of influence who have not yet said "yes" to Christ.

-- Harold K. Bates in “Witness for Christ”


Friday, October 11, 2019


“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”  (Romans 6:23 NLT)

In the gospel, we discover we are far worse off than we thought, and far more loved than we ever dreamed.

-- Steven Curtis Chapman and Scotty Smith in “Speechless: Living in Awe of God’s Disruptive Grace”


Thursday, October 10, 2019


Every animal on earth has a set of correspondences with the environment around it, and some of these correspondences far exceed ours. Humans can perceive only 30 percent of the range of the sun’s light and 1/70th of the spectrum of electromagnetic energy. Many animals far exceed our abilities. Bats detect insects by sonar; pigeons navigate by magnetic fields; bloodhounds perceive a world of smell unavailable to us.

Perhaps the spiritual or “unseen” world requires an inbuilt set of correspondences activated only through some sort of spiritual [awakening]. “No one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above,” said Jesus (John 3:3 NRSV). “The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit,” said Paul (1 Corinthians 2:14 NIV). Both expressions point to a different level of correspondences available only to a person spiritually alive.

-- Philip Yancey in “Seeing the Invisible God”


Wednesday, October 9, 2019


"May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.” (1 Thessalonians 3:12 NIV)

The experience of Christian togetherness is not simply for the benefit of those who choose to participate in Christian community. A community of love rooted in the redemptive reign of God can never be an in-house enterprise, for such love is contagious and overflowing.

-- Darrell Gruber in “Missional Church”


Tuesday, October 8, 2019


"Never abandon a friend -- either yours or your father’s. When disaster strikes, you won’t have to ask your brother for assistance. It’s better to go to a neighbor than to a brother who lives far away." (Proverbs 27:10 NLT)

Often it takes a moment of crisis to wake us up to our need for others, making us aware of the interdependence that is a natural part of being human. When things are going well, we tend to live an illusion of independence, not only from God but also from our fellow human beings. As long as life moves smoothly forward, we tend to think we can handle everything on our own. However, a passing storm -- any kind of setback or crisis -- reminds us that we need help.

-- Sarah Parsons in “A Clearing Season”


Monday, October 7, 2019


"Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it." (1 Corinthians 12:27)

The doctrine of the "body" in First Corinthians... is a picture of the local church, (which) is distinguished by a great variety of gifts, outlooks, and cultures. The various members belong organically to each other in Christ, and are to exhibit that harmony practically in their common life. The recognition of how they differ from each other, and are yet one, is to enrich their worship, inspire their ministry, and quicken their love. To divide the local church is... to witness to a divided Christ, or to a discipleship to lesser masters than Christ, such as Paul or Apollos. Both implications are equally unthinkable. There is no New Testament pattern of serving the one Christ, except in one local body, formed by the incorporation given in the one baptism, and the continued life sustained by breaking and sharing the one bread.

-- C. O. Buchanan in “The Unity of the Church” 


Thursday, October 3, 2019


“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to Himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to Him.”  (2 Corinthians 5:17-18 NLT)

God is not satisfied with outward, superficial change. He wants you to be completely transformed: to experience a new birth, take on a brand-new nature, and become a new you. Think of the difference between a snake and a caterpillar. A snake who sheds his skin is still a snake; but a caterpillar who sheds his cocoon becomes a butterfly.

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


Wednesday, October 2, 2019


“The gifts He gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry,…” (Ephesians 4:11-12a NRSV)

Where is the church at 11:25 on Wednesday morning? The church then is in the dentist’s office, in the automobile salesroom and repair shop… It is in the hospital, in the classroom, and in the home. It is in the offices… That is where the church is, wherever God’s people are … They are honoring God, not just while they worship in a building Sunday morning, but out there throughout the week.

-- Adapted from Arthur H. DeKruyter


Tuesday, October 1, 2019


“By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”  (Galatians 5:22-23a NRSV)

Saint John of the Cross said that those who know God and what He is doing have three distinguishing characteristics -- tranquility, gentleness, and strength. That suggests to me an immense depth, an invulnerable steadiness, an ability to respond with kindness and care for others out of a center of quiet rest.

Frenzy, fury, hysteria, intensity, impatience, instability, pessimism, and every other kind of fuss and ferocity are marks of an immature soul. Those who know “that God works in tranquility,” as one old saint put it, are not like that. They share the calm and quiet nature of the One “who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will.” (Ephesians 1:11)

-- David Roper in “A Beacon in the Darkness: Reflecting God’s Light in Today’s World”