Friday, July 31, 2020


Here is the gospel in summary: Christ came to reveal that the Father’s essential purpose for us is to accept His love and in response to do His will. Throughout His incarnate life on earth, Jesus taught that surrender and obedience are the keys to receiving the Father’s power. And He lived what He taught. His watchword was, “Not My will, but Yours be done.” His constant prayer was “Abba, Father” -- the intimate words of trust meaning “dearest Father.” He taught us to pray “our Father.” There was never any question in His mind or heart about who was in charge or in control. He modeled life without a power struggle and lived a life emulating the nature and character of the Father. His unequaled love, the works He accomplished, and the miracles He performed -- all exemplified His complete trust in and obedience to God the Father. In the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross the word in His heart and on His lips was Father. 

 -- Lloyd J. Ogilvie in “If God Cares, Why Do I Still Have Problems?”


Thursday, July 30, 2020


“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage; rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death -- even death on a cross!”  (Philippians 2:5-8 NIV)

What man ever had more renown?  The whole Jewish people foretell Jesus before His coming.  The Gentile people worship Him after His coming.  The two peoples, Gentile and Jewish, regard Him as their centre.

And yet what man enjoys this renown less?  Of thirty-three years, He lives thirty without appearing. For three years He passes as an impostor; the priests and the chief people reject Him; His friends and His nearest relatives despise Him. Finally, He dies, betrayed by one of His own disciples, denied by another, and abandoned by all.

What part, then, has He in this renown?  Never had man so much renown; never had man more ignominy.  All that renown was only of use to us, to help us to recognize Him; it was of no use to Him. 

-- Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) in “Pensées”


Wednesday, July 29, 2020


Our failures, placed in God’s hands, often lead to our greatest successes. Our most painful experiences become our defining moments by the grace of God, provided that we learn from them. This is what Paul was teaching in Romans 8:28: “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.”

The challenge for many of us is that we spend so much time blaming others for our failures and expressing disappointment in God that we miss an opportunity to be teachable and to learn from the experience. God takes the dark moments, the failures and rejections in our lives, and uses them for our good -- if we allow it, if we humble ourselves and consider whether there is anything in us that needs to be changed…

I’ve known people who reached such a point when the world was crashing down around them, and instead of asking what they might need to change, they justified themselves and pointed a finger at everyone else. But there is great power in honestly assessing how we ended up where we are and inviting God to teach us, shape us, and forgive us. In this teachable position, humbled before God, we are often surprised by what happens next. 

-- Adam Hamilton in “Revival”


Tuesday, July 28, 2020


[In the midst of the storm the disciples asked Jesus,] “Teacher, don’t you even care that we are going to drown?” (Mark 4:38)

Don’t you even care? This is the question that always burns in our hearts when trouble comes and our Lord doesn’t seem to be doing anything to help us. It’s a question produced by faith running on fumes -- a question we often hate ourselves for asking but can’t seem to avoid. It’s the question that was burning a hole in Job’s heart when he said, “I cry to You, O God, but You don’t answer me” (Job 30:20).  And it’s the question that tore a bitter wail from the psalmist: “I am forgotten, cut off from Your care” (Psalm 88:5).

If your faith needs a refill, Don’t you even care? may be the question you’ve been asking lately.

If so, you’ll find your answer in the same place the disciples found theirs -- in Jesus’ words. When He said, “Quiet down” He was commanding the storm, but even more so, He was sending a message to the disciples. He was saying, “See, I do care.”

This is one of the most important things you can understand about Jesus’ words. It doesn’t matter who (or what) He’s speaking to in Scripture, He’s also speaking to you and me. Every sentence has significance, and woven throughout His words and phrases are the answers to all of life’s most important questions. If a passage doesn’t seem relevant, it’s only because it doesn’t meet your need at that particular moment. The probability is that someday it will. 

-- Mark Atteberry in “Free Refill: Coming Back for More of Jesus”


Monday, July 27, 2020


Three Psalms start with precisely these words — Psalms 96, 98, and 149 — “sing to the Lord a new song.” As does Isaiah 42:10 (“sing to the Lord a new song”) and Psalm 33:3 (“sing to Him a new song”). And Psalm 144:9 adds its voice to the chorus, “I will sing a new song to You, O God.”

Why is this the case? Psalm 40 gives us a clue. The psalmist has “waited patiently for the Lord” for some deliverance. God hears him, and rescues him, and one of the things God does for him in the deliverance is “He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God” (Psalm 40:3).

New songs of praise are appropriate for new rescues and fresh manifestations of grace. As long as God is gracious toward us, as long as He keeps showing us His power, and wowing us with His works, it is fitting that we not just sing old songs inspired by His past grace, but also that we sing new songs about His ever-streaming, never-ceasing grace in our lives. 

-- Adapted from David Mathis at


Friday, July 24, 2020


Shortly after [our daughter] Hope died, I was at the cosmetics counter buying some mascara.  "Will this mascara run down my face when I cry?" I asked.

The girl behind the counter assured me it wouldn't and asked with a laugh in her voice. "Are you going to be crying?"

"Yes," I answered.  "I am."

We had Hope for 199 days.  We loved her.  We enjoyed her richly and shared her with everyone we could.  We held her during her seizures.  Then we let her go.

The day after we buried Hope, my husband said to me, "You know, I think we expected our faith to make this hurt less, but it doesn't.  Our faith gave us an incredible amount of strength and encouragement while we had Hope, and we are comforted by the knowledge that she is in heaven.  Our faith keeps us from being swallowed by despair.  But I don't think it makes our loss hurt any less." 

-- Nancy Guthrie in “Holding on to Hope” 


Thursday, July 23, 2020


“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in His steps.”  (1 Peter 2:21 ESV)

Jesus... did not finish all the urgent tasks in Palestine or all the things He would have liked to do, but He did finish the work which God gave Him to do.  The only alternative to frustration is to be sure that we are doing what God wants. Nothing substitutes for knowing that this day, this hour, in this place, we are doing the will of the Father.  Then and only then can we think of all the other unfinished tasks with equanimity, and leave them with God. 

-- Charles E. Hummel in “The Tyranny of the Urgent”  


Wednesday, July 22, 2020


“For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; when I awake, I am still with You.”  (Psalm 139:13-18 NKJV)

Our search for purpose seems coded into the fabric of our being. We are wired to live a meaningful existence, but we can’t begin to discover what that purpose is unless we know the One who created us for a purpose. …

Every search for purpose is meant to lead us to the One who gave us the drive to search. Seeking meaning must take us to the Maker of all things. Understanding our purpose begins with knowing the One who put eternity in people’s hearts. 

-- Rob Fuquay in “Which Way, Lord?”


Tuesday, July 21, 2020


“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)

The gospel costs nothing. We cannot buy it or earn it. It can only be received as a free gift, compliments of God’s grace. So it costs nothing, but it demands everything. And that is where most of us get stuck -- spiritual no-man’s-land. We’re too Christian to enjoy sin and too sinful to enjoy Christ. We’ve got just enough Jesus to be informed, but not enough to be transformed.

We want everything God has to offer without giving anything up. We want to buy in without selling out. We’re afraid that if we don’t hold out on God, we’ll miss out on what this life has to offer. It’s a lie. It’s the same lie the serpent told Adam and Eve in the garden. God is not holding out on you.

You can take Psalm 84:11 to the bank:  “No good thing does God withhold from those who walk uprightly.”

If you don’t hold out on God, I can promise you this: God will not hold out on you. But it’s all or nothing.

It’s all of you for all of Him. 

-- Mark Batterson in “All In: You Are One Decision Away from a Totally Different Life” 


Monday, July 20, 2020


Jesus said, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another."  (John 13:34-35 NIV)

To love others was not a new commandment, but to love others as Christ loved others was revolutionary.  Now we are to love others based on Jesus’ sacrificial love for us.  Such love will not only bring unbelievers to Christ, it will also keep believers strong and united in a hostile world to God. Jesus was a living example of God’s love, as we are to be living examples of Jesus’ love.

Jesus says that our Christlike love will show we are His disciples. Do people… know you are Jesus’ followers by your love for one another?

Love is more than simply warm feelings; it is an attitude that reveals itself in action. How can we love others as Jesus loves? By helping when it’s not convenient, by giving when it hurts, by devoting energy to others’ welfare rather than our own, by absorbing hurts from others without complaining or fighting back. This kind of love is hard to do. That is why people notice when you do it and know you are empowered by a supernatural source. 

-- From “The Life Application Study Bible” 


Friday, July 17, 2020


“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge -- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” – Ephesians 3:17-19

A godly marriage is not created by finding the perfect, flawless person, but is created by allowing God's perfect love and acceptance to flow through one imperfect person -- you -- toward another imperfect person -- your mate.

-- Dennis Rainey in “Building Your Marriage”


Thursday, July 16, 2020


Jesus said, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”  (Revelation 22:13 NIV)

History is like a giant piece of fabric with very intricate and complex patterns. During the limited span of our lifetimes we see only a tiny fraction of the pattern. Furthermore, as has been observed by others, we see the pattern from the underside. The underside of a weaving usually makes no sense. Even the upper side makes little sense if we view just a tiny piece. Only God sees the upper side, and only He sees the entire fabric with its complete pattern. Therefore, we must trust Him to work out all the details of history to His glory, knowing that His glory and our good are bound together. 

--  Jerry Bridges in “Trusting God”


Tuesday, July 14, 2020


The apostle John, writing to the persecuted believers of the seven churches of Asia, identified himself as “your brother and companion in the suffering… that [is] ours in Jesus” (Revelation 1:9). The Greek word is translated as companion means “fellow sharer.” It is a form of the word koinonia from which we get our word “fellowship.”…

Trials and afflictions have a leveling effect among believers. It is often been said that “the ground is level at the foot of the cross.” That is, regardless of our wealth or power or station in life, we are all alike in our need for a Savior. In the same way, we are all alike in our adversity. It strikes the rich and poor, the powerful and the weak, the superior and the subordinate, all without distinction. In times of adversity we tend to set aside such notions of “vertical” relationships and relate to one another on a horizontal level as brothers and fellow sufferers. John could have rightly identified himself as an apostle of Jesus Christ, as one in a position of spiritual authority over suffering believers in Asia. Instead he chose to identify himself as a brother and companion in their suffering. 

-- Jerry Bridges in “Trusting God”


Monday, July 13, 2020


“You are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of His household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone. In Him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit.”  (Ephesians 2:19-22 NIV)

If you are in Christ, then you are a part of that building. You have been fitted together with me and with the rest of the church. We are a building, and not just a building, but a temple.

You know what a temple is? It is a place where you go to meet God. It is a place where God abides.

We are the place God lives and moves in the world. He doesn’t want us to confine Him to one place like this church building and just worship and serve Him here. He wants us to keep Him on the move in the community, serving and meeting needs.

The gospel breaks down walls, unites people, and builds up a house where God dwells. 

-- Judith Hand in a sermon entitled “You Are God's House, God's Building”


Friday, July 10, 2020


“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  (Matthew 11:28-30 NKJV)

The famous poem “Footprints” reminds us that in life’s most difficult seasons, Jesus does not abandon us; rather, at the times we are unable to go on, He picks us up and carries us.

We are amazed by the picture of a burden-bearing Savior. He took our sins upon Himself so that we might have freedom. He takes up our shame so that we are no longer hindered by it. What other burdens have never landed on our shoulders because He would not allow it? What other burdens has He taken upon Himself rather than letting them fall to us?

Whatever is loading you down today, you need to carry it no longer. Jesus will scoop the weight in one arm and put His other arm around your tired shoulders. Gently He’ll remind you that it is for these very things that He sacrificed His life.

Today, feel Him removing the weight of burden and holding you near. 

-- From “Hello God… It’s Me: 365 Day Devotional Journal”


Thursday, July 9, 2020


Jesus said, "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing… By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples" (John 15:5, 8).

How is it possible for us sinful, finite creatures to glorify God? How can we -- with all our limitations -- add anything at all to the majesty and blessedness of the everlasting Creator? It seems so impossible. Almost incredible. Jesus assures us, however, that we can do so by “bearing much fruit.” It is through such spiritual productivity, He says, that we become His disciples. Maybe, then, we should make a distinction. Maybe there are Christians who never pass from mere belief into the category of discipleship. For only in proportion as, and to the degree that, we bear fruit that we are entitled to call ourselves disciples of Jesus.

What is the supreme purpose of human life? A Christ-like discipleship that glorifies God. And how do we become Christ-like disciples? By bearing fruit. No, by bearing ”much fruit”, by becoming maximally productive for the praise of our heavenly Father. We must bear much fruit, and that requires a close relationship with Jesus Christ. 

-- Adapted from Vernon Grounds in “Radical Commitment”


Wednesday, July 8, 2020


I have seen people make terrible decisions when they were drained, tired, discouraged, or afraid that they would never have made otherwise. Never try to choose the right course of action in the wrong frame of mind.

Wisdom may well have you wait to make a big decision until you’re rested. An anxious mind and an exhausted body will lead to a terrible decision nine times out of ten. Paul says, “The peace of God, which transcends all [human] understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). If I’m going to make a good decision, I need that peace, that encouragement of knowing I’m with God. 

-- John Ortberg in “All the Places to Go… How Will You Know?”


Tuesday, July 7, 2020


“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”  (Galatians 5:13-14 NIV)

We who lived in concentration camps can remember those who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread.  They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms -- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way...  It is this spiritual freedom which cannot be taken away that makes life meaningful and purposeful. 

-- Viktor Frankl 


Monday, July 6, 2020


So many of us love these words written by Jeremiah, the lamenting prophet, which have sustained us in dark days: “The steadfast love of the Lᴏʀᴅ never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22–23)

Have you ever wondered why Jeremiah says that God’s steadfast love and mercies never cease and yet they are new every morning? How is something that never ceases, new?

We might say that Jeremiah is simply speaking phenomenologically, meaning it appears like God’s love and mercies are new with each new day, even though it’s not really new. But I don’t think that’s true. Jeremiah is not merely being more than poetic (which he is). I think there is a very real sense in which God’s enduring love and constant mercies are not only new every morning, but new every moment.

Every single moment is new. Every moment is a completely unique creation by God the Father through God the Son who is upholding the universe at that moment by the word of His power (Hebrews 1:2–3). Never is a moment neglected. Never is a moment repeated. Each moment is a new, infinitely powerful and complex word spoken by the Word with deliberate intention (John 1:1). Every moment God makes He decides to be utterly faithful to His character and His purposes. Every new moment God commits to fulfill what He says He will do. 

-- Jon Bloom, from the blog


Friday, July 3, 2020


"Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord."  (Psalm 33:12)

Most gracious Heavenly Father and Sovereign Lord:

There is no greater feeling of liberty than to experience the freedom from sin and death that You provided for us through Your Son, Jesus Christ. Today our hearts and souls are free to praise You. For this, we are beyond thankful.

As we approach Independence Day, we are reminded of all those who have sacrificed for our freedom, following the example of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Let us not take freedom, both physical and spiritual, for granted. May we always remember that a very high price was paid for all of our freedoms. Bless those who have served and continue to give their lives for our freedoms. With favor and bounty, meet their needs and watch over their families.

Lord God, we are so thankful for this nation -- for all the sacrifices others have made to build and defend and to protect this country. Thank You for the opportunities and freedoms we have in these United States of America. Help us to never take these blessings for granted.

Help us to live our lives in ways that glorify You, Lord. Give us the strength to be a blessing in someone's life, and grant us the opportunity to lead others into the freedom that can be found only in knowing You.

Help us to exercise our freedoms by being responsible and caring. Give us strength to do what is needed individually and collectively to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic. Give us the resolve to deal with racism in all its forms. Give us understanding to value life and protect the innocent and most vulnerable. Give us hope to work toward a future where justice and mercy are lived out every day.

Father God, we stand today as past generations have stood before You in times gone by, celebrating our history and reveling in all the great things that our country has achieved. On this day we rejoice in the favor You have graciously given us.

Yet, as a nation and people we have not always chosen the right way. We ask You to forgive us for these times. On this day we commit ourselves to wholeheartedly honoring and serving You. With everything that we are, we lay our lives before You. Make us a generous people, a holy nation, a people set aside to love You forever, for the sake of our people and our land. 

Lord God, today, we do not presume Your grace for our country. Our land is in need of You; our people are in need of You; our families are in need of You; our businesses are in need of You; our schools are in need of You; our government is in need of You. May we look only to You this Independence Day and be DEPENDENT on You.

Come now by Your glorious Holy Spirit, breathe new life into all of our nation. Cover us with Your mercy and Your grace, Your wisdom and Your will, so that we as a nation may be part of Your glory, so that we might see “the glory of the Lord.”


-- Adapted from various sources


Thursday, July 2, 2020


“So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!”  (2 Corinthians 5:17 NRSV)

Faith is unlearning the senseless worries and misguided beliefs that keep us captive. It is far more complex than simply modifying behavior. Faith is rewiring the human brain. We are literally upgrading our minds by downloading the mind of Christ. 

-- Mark Batterson


Wednesday, July 1, 2020


If you want wisdom, don’t try to obtain it all by yourself. Get wise counsel. Get around people whose character you trust, who have good judgement, who love you, and who care about your well-being. Tell them, “I have this decision to make. Speak into my life.” Very often God speaks wisdom into us through somebody else.

Solomon, the icon of wisdom in the Old Testament, wrote Proverbs 12:15: “The way of fools seems right to them.” Why? Because they’re fools. That’s part of what it means to be a fool, and there is a fool in all of us. There is a fool in me. There is a fool in you.

“The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.” A coachable spirit is core to wisdom. We all need this. 

-- Adapted from John Ortberg in “All the Places to Go… How Will You Know?”