Wednesday, September 30, 2020


“O’ Lord have mercy on me in my anguish. My eyes are red from weeping; my health is broken from sorrow.”  (Psalm 31:9)

Real grief is not healed by time.... If time does anything, it deepens our grief.  The longer we live, the more fully we become aware of who she/he was for us, and the more intimately we experience what their love meant to us.  Real, deep love is, as you know, very unobtrusive, seemingly easy and obvious, and so present that we take it for granted.  Therefore, it is often only in retrospect - or better, in memory - that we fully realize its power and depth.  Yes, indeed, love often makes itself visible in pain. 

-- Henri Nouwen


Tuesday, September 29, 2020


“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in Him.’ The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul that seeks Him.”  (Lamentations 3:22-25 NRSV)

Since God has mercies to give, and He intends to give them to us, those mercies are not broken pieces of someone else’s leftovers… God has bags that were never untied, never opened up, but set aside through a thousand generations for those who hope in His mercy. 

-- John Bunyan, quoted in “Light for My Path”


Monday, September 28, 2020


I think it’s easy for us to operate out of a scarcity mentality: the more I give, the less I’ll have.  But it’s not true.  In the kingdom of God, it’s the opposite.  The less you give, the less you have, and the more you give, the more you have.  If you hang on to what you have, your heart will become smaller and smaller.  And you’ll lose your soul in the process.  But if you give what you’ve got your heart will grow larger and larger for the things of God.

That abundance mentality traces back to a biblical promise in Luke 6:38: “Give and it will be given to you.  A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.  For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

When you give beyond your ability, God is going to bless you beyond your ability.  It’s the inviolable law of measures: you always get back more than you give away.  Don’t get me wrong.  God is not a slot machine.  If you give to get, you don’t get it.  And God won’t honor it.  But if you give for the right reasons, then you’ll discover that you cannot outgive God.  It’s not possible.  In fact, if you start giving beyond your means, you may discover that you have more left over than what you started with.  That is what happens when we add God to the equation of our finances. 

-- Mark Batterson in “PRIMAL: A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity”


Friday, September 25, 2020


“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”  (Galatians 2:19-20 NRSV)

A century ago, a band of brave souls became known as one-way missionaries. They purchased single tickets to the mission field without the return half. And instead of suitcases, they packed their few earthly belongings into coffins. As they sailed out of port, they waved good-bye to everyone they loved, everything they knew. They knew they’d never return home.

A. W. Milne was one of those missionaries. He set sail for the New Hebrides in the South Pacific, knowing full well that the headhunters who lived there had martyred every missionary before him. Milne did not fear for his life, because he had already died to himself. His coffin was packed. For thirty-five years, he lived among that tribe and loved them. When he died, tribe members buried him in the middle of their village and inscribed this epitaph on his tombstone: “When he came there was no light. When he left there was no darkness.” 

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


Thursday, September 24, 2020


“Jesus is ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’ Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”  (Acts 4:11-12 NIV)

Some are foolish enough to put their confidence in ministers. I cannot even save myself; what can I do for others? There died in London not long ago a tradesman of much wealth. When he came near to death, though I had never seen the man in my life, he importunately asked for me. I could not go. My brother went to see him, and after setting before him the way to salvation, he inquired, “What made you wish to see my brother?”

“Well,” he said, “whenever I have a doctor, I always like to get the best. And when I employ a lawyer, I like the man who is high in the profession. Money is no object. I want the best possible help.”

I shuddered at being so regarded. The best help he could get! That best is nothing -- less than nothing, and vanity. What can we do for you if you will not have a Savior? We can stand and weep over you, and break our hearts to think that you reject Him, but what can we do? 

-- Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-1892), from the book “Spurgeon at His Best” compiled by Tom Carter


Wednesday, September 23, 2020


We could call the entire New Testament an “evangelistic” document. The word gospel means “good news.” John says his Gospel was written so that people would believe that Jesus is the Son of God and find life in Him (John 20:30-31). The book of Acts is the energetic account of the way the good news spread through the witness of the early church. Most of the epistles are the explanation of the gospel or the application of the good news to daily life. The New Testament reaches its climax in the Revelation, which declares the good news that, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, Jesus  Christ is “ruler of the kings of the earth” (Revelation 1:5). The book concludes with the invitation for everyone who is thirsty to come and receive the “water of life as a gift” (Revelation 22:17).

“Witness” to Jesus Christ and “evangelism” in the sense of inviting others to experience new life in Him are woven into the fabric of the New Testament. 

-- James A. Harnish in “A Disciple’s Path: Deepening Your Relationship with Christ and the Church” 


Tuesday, September 22, 2020


"Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him, and He will act.”  (Psalm 37:4-5 ESV)

What kind of life does my heart want?  I find no easy answers to that question, but I know the answer means giving up the fantasy of always moving forward and allowing instead for seasons of dormancy.  And it is always time to listen.  Perhaps the heart's single greatest desire is to listen attentively to the voice of God … My heart wants the kind of life that leaves room for God… 

-- Elizabeth J. Canham in “Heart Whispers” 


Monday, September 21, 2020


“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.”  (Psalm 42:11 NIV)

For many years in my own pilgrimage of seeking to come to a place of trusting God at all times, I was a prisoner to my feelings. I mistakenly thought I could not trust God unless I felt like trusting Him (which I almost never did in times of adversity). Now I am learning that trusting God is first of all a matter of the will and is not dependent on my feelings. I choose to trust God, and my feelings eventually will follow…

Having been exposed to the knowledge of the truth that God is sovereign, wise, and loving, we must then choose whether to believe the truth about God, which He has revealed to us, or whether to follow our feelings. If we are to trust God, we must choose to believe His truth. We must say, “I will trust You though I do not feel like doing so.” 

-- Jerry Bridges in “Trusting God”


Friday, September 18, 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)

In Jesus’ day -- as in our own -- there was no lack of competing social, political, or religious movements, all of them with leaders who were promoting their philosophies and programs in the marketplace of ideas and trying to enlist others to join their particular crusades.

To many observers, Jesus appeared to be just another in a seemingly endless succession of Middle Eastern spiritual teachers or cultural rebels, all of whom sought to recruit their own disciples.

One of the major differences, though, between Jesus and the other teachers was that He preached a radical and life-transforming message based on love, and He backed up His message with His life. “My command is this,” He said, “love each other as I have loved you.” (John 15:12) 

-- Steve & Lois Rabey in “Side by Side: Disciple-Making for a New Century”


Thursday, September 17, 2020


Jesus said, “Whoever does not carry the cross and follow Me cannot be My disciple.” (Luke 14:27)

To be a Christian man in the twenty-first century is -- essentially -- to be countercultural. Faith-filled living always involves standing out as somewhat different from the run-of-the-mill. That is a large part of what Christ means by “carrying the cross”; that’s what it means to really live. It is -- usually -- surprisingly easy to follow the crowd, and once we fall into that pattern, it becomes astonishingly hard to buck the system. To be honest, I have to admit that following Jesus in this way turns out to be one of my biggest personal challenges, because for me the greatest temptation has always been that of the easy, carefree life. 

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


Wednesday, September 16, 2020


Whole-life witness is in the center flow of the Methodist tradition. Along with his call to a transformed life, John Wesley called for the transformation of the social structures of his time by confronting issues of poverty, economic injustice, imprisonment, and war.

Wesley continued the call for social reform until the end of his life. In fact, the last letter he wrote was to William Wilberforce, who had been converted through the Wesleyan Revival.  In the letter Wesley encouraged Wilberforce to continue his struggle for the abolition of slavery, writing with the same passion he expressed when sharing his personal faith in Christ. Wesley died just six days later on March 2, 1791. The struggle went on for sixteen years until [the British] Parliament abolished the slave trade in 1807…

Both as individuals and as congregations, the people called Methodists are called to whole-life witness by which growing disciples of Jesus Christ become a part of God’s transformation of the world. When Jesus said, “You shall be My witnesses” (Acts 1:8), He wasn’t speaking only to the first apostles. He was speaking to us! 

-- James A. Harnish in “A Disciple’s Path: Deepening Your Relationship with Christ and the Church”


Tuesday, September 15, 2020


Jesus said, “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)

Our witness for Christ is never complete if it touches only individual lives… We are called to go into the world with a whole-life witness. In other words, our witness should transform not only the lives of individuals but also the world in which we live. In this way our witness becomes an expression of the Kingdom of God, coming on earth as it is already fulfilled in heaven.

Sometimes individual Christians and churches tend to emphasize either personal witness on the one hand or social witness on the other, but whole-life evangelism binds both together in a life-transforming whole. 

-- James A. Harnish in “A Disciple’s Path: Deepening Your Relationship with Christ and the Church”


Monday, September 14, 2020


“Pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”  (James 5:16b NIV)

I earnestly believe that intercessory prayer surrounds the person with the love of God in a special way.  Through prayer we do not so much manipulate God to do our will as we become surrendered instruments through whom God's love can move to those who are dear to us.

We usually think of prayer as a means whereby we reach another person through God.  But I am suggesting that prayer is a way in which God can flow through us to that other person.

We can all be sending agents for the love of God.  I am convinced that in prayer we become channels through whom the passionate love of God flows and engulfs other persons.

The more we pray, the more channels there are for the infinite love of our Lord to flow to, surround, and invade the person we hold up in prayer. 

-- Tony Campolo


Friday, September 11, 2020


Jesus declared: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”  (Matthew 22:37-39)

You learn to speak by speaking, to study by studying, to run by running, to work by working; and just so, you learn to love God and [neighbor] by loving.  Begin as a mere apprentice, and the very power of love will lead you on to become a master of the art.

-- Saint Francis of Sales (1567-1622)


Thursday, September 10, 2020


“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)

God is endlessly imaginative, and the function of discernment is to enter creatively into God’s vision for the world and to collaborate with the Spirit in making that vision a reality. 

-- David Lonsdale, quoted in “Side by Side: Disciple-Making for a New Century”,  Steve & Lois Rabey, General Editors 


Wednesday, September 9, 2020


The One who knew said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). Happy, that is, are those people who know that their spiritual power is small, that their creeds are imperfect, that their instruction concerning God and man is incomplete. Happy are those who know that they do not know all of the truth. For only those who admit their spiritual poverty are willing to learn.  

-- Agnes Sanford in “The Healing Light”


Tuesday, September 8, 2020


For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many ‘gods’ and many ‘lords’), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.”  (1 Corinthians 8:5-6 NIV)

Make no mistake: if Jesus is not Lord of our lives, someone or something else will be. Jesus taught, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matthew 6:24 NIV) By the same token, you cannot serve God and politics. You cannot serve God and sex. You cannot serve God and work.  Yes, you can participate in politics, you can have a healthy and righteous sex life, and you can strive to succeed at work. Only one, though, may truly have dominion over your life… You can only have one highest priority. You can only have one lord, and of the many lords from which we may choose, only Jesus brings us true peace, a heart in line with God’s heart, and eternal life.

For Jesus to be Lord of our lives, we must offer Him three things: our obedience, our trust, and our love. Anything less, and we are denying Him His rightful place as Lord. 

-- David Watson in “A Firm Foundation”


Friday, September 4, 2020


“I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.”  (Genesis 12:2 NIV)

Blessing to the ancient world was the highest form of well-being possible for human beings. The Greeks referred to the blissful existence of the gods as “blessed.” For Israel, blessing included not just gifts from God but especially life with God. Blessing would include all areas of Abram’s life: his family, his finances, his work, and his heart. That meant he wasn’t just to receive a blessing; he was to be a blessing. In fact, it is impossible to be blessed in the highest sense apart from becoming a blessing. One of our deepest needs of the human soul is that others should be blessed through our lives. 

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


Thursday, September 3, 2020


“So again I ask, does God give you His Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard? So also Abraham ‘believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.’ Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: ‘All nations will be blessed through you.’ So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.”  (Galatians 3:5-9 NIV)

Just like Abraham, we are made right with God by faith alone. And just like Abraham, we are commissioned to bless all nations by sharing and showing the good news of God’s forgiveness. God’s intention is for us -- now forgiven and free -- to be bright beacons of hope and life in the world. But when we forget that salvation is by grace, we stop shining. Living in our own strength darkens our hearts and deadens our enthusiasm. What’s more, when we fall into the trap of trying to earn God’s approval, we paint a misleading and unattractive picture of what it means to be a child of God. Revel in the astonishing good news that you are -- now, already -- fully accepted in Christ. Then spend your life revealing that amazing grace to others. 

-- Max Lucado in “Life Lessons: Galatians”


Wednesday, September 2, 2020


“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… 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 23:4,6 NKJV)

Remember the Garden of Eden?

The serpent didn’t bother trying to convince Eve that God was an evil monster. He merely suggested that God wasn’t being entirely honest about why He instructed her and Adam not to eat the fruit that was growing on the tree in the middle of the garden. He said, “God knows that your eyes will be opened when you eat it. You will become just like God, knowing everything, both good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). Do you see the subtle implication? God isn’t bad, exactly. He just isn’t as good as you thought. Satan knows that when that idea sinks its roots into your mind, the draining of your faith will begin in earnest. From that point on, every time something bad happens, you’ll throw a suspicious glare in the Lord’s direction. 

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


Tuesday, September 1, 2020


“For, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ But how are they to call on One in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in One of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim Him? And how are they to proclaim Him unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’”  (Romans 10:13-15 NRSV)

You may not be called to be a pastor but may simply want to share with others what God has done in your life. God is calling all of us to this kind of ministry. Whether you are a pastor or layperson, God calls you to share your faith with family, friends, neighbors, and any with whom you have influence. Peter speaks of doing this with “gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15 NIV). Our most profound witness is how we live and how we love, but at some point it also includes our words, sharing the story of what God has done in and for us. 

-- Adam Hamilton in “Revival: Faith as Wesley Lived It”