Friday, October 30, 2020


“Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but He died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but He was raised to life in the Spirit.”  (1 Peter 3:18 NLT)

Most victories are only temporary. Whoever wins the Super Bowl or the World Series this year will have to go out and compete for the championship again next year. An artist who wins the Grammy for Song of the Year this year must try to outdo herself next year. The same is true for an actor who wins a coveted Oscar. And every patient who is given a clean bill of health from his doctor today knows there will be other illnesses he’ll have to contend with in the future. But never again will our Lord have to contend with sin and death. Romans 6:10 (NIV) says, “He died once to defeat sin, and now He lives for the glory of God.” 

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


Thursday, October 29, 2020


Jesus answered them, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  (John 16:33 NIV)

In my own life, the storms have not always been literal, but they have been just as terrifying. When they struck and seemed to blow my life off course, they led eventually to the place where I am today. Storms shaped me, changed me, and pushed me toward new places and new people. When I was a boy, my parents divorced. This was a storm in which, as a twelve-year-old, I thought my world had ended. But through that move I came to faith in Christ and met the girl who would one day become my wife. When as a teen my alcoholic step-father plunged our home life into constant turmoil, I heard a call to become a pastor. When my best friend died in an accident and I nearly lost my faith, I began searching for answers and ended up a United Methodist. The tragedies and challenges we call the storms of life do not have to destroy us; placed in God’s hands, they become part of our defining story and open the door to new possibilities.   

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


Wednesday, October 28, 2020


“When [Peter] saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Immediately Jesus reached out His hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ He said, ‘why did you doubt?’ And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’”  (Matthew 14:30-33 NIV)

It’s interesting how God works in the storms of life. I’m not suggesting God sends them, though there are a few examples of that in Scripture, but if we’re paying attention we certainly can see that God uses them and works through them. Storms often play a part in great revivals of faith. Noah, Jonah, Peter, and Paul all had profound encounters with God in the midst of storms. Martin Luther left his law studies to become a monk because of an experience in a storm. And storms in the Atlantic, during which the terrified Wesley thought he was dying, prepared him for his own Damascus Road experience. 

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


Tuesday, October 27, 2020


Jesus said, “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’… For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”  (Matthew 6:31-33 NKJV)

G. Campbell Morgan expressed how this kind of guided thinking brings freedom from anxiety. “The supreme passion of all our days, in all our ways, is to be a person for the kingdom of God. That is not some far off reality or event, but something already existing, in which and with which we are to seek right relationships. The passion of life is to be a passion for the kingdom of God, and the measure to which we obey this injunction (to seek first the kingdom), is the measure in which we pass into the realm of unruffled peace and rest and calm.” 

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


Monday, October 26, 2020


"After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua… ‘Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.’"  (Joshua 1:1,8,9 NIV)

God tells Joshua that Moses has died and that he will now lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. This powerful scripture reminds us that God is with us wherever we go and whatever we do. We do not need to be afraid of anyone or anything if we keep the Word of God in our heart. Instead, we can move courageously forward in life and an uncertain world as long as we remember and believe that God is with us. 

-- Author Unknown, adapted from


Friday, October 23, 2020


Jesus said, “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)

In his book “First Things First,” Steven Covey writes, "The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing!" As faithful members and leaders of the... church, our challenge is to make sure that we are clear that the MAIN THING is to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ. It is to remind us over and over again that the primary mission of the church is that of making disciples of Jesus Christ.

...We are sent out to tell the world one thing. One thing! One simple, holy thing. We are to tell the world what God has done for us and what mercy God has shown us. Nothing else can give life to the world that needs Christ. Nothing else can heal our world but the mercy of God! Only the Savior...

-- U.M. Bishop Robert C. Morgan, in a letter to United Methodist congregations around the world, Nov. 9, 1999


Thursday, October 22, 2020


“Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity.”  (2 Peter 3:18 ESV)

John Wesley saw all of life lived in the context of grace. He explained it in terms of the stages of grace in which we live. First, we experience prevenient grace. This grace seeks us before we know it. Gives us the ability to have faith, creates within us spiritual discontent. Prevenient grace prepares, prompts, and prods us until we experience [justifying grace] -- the saving grace of God. Then saving grace forgives us, gives us a fresh start, turns us in the right direction, and gives us an eternal destiny. And finally, Wesley speaks of sanctifying grace, that grace in which we live the rest of our lives. The grace that seeks to make us whole and holy. Wesley challenged us to always be growing in grace. 

-- James W. Moore and Bob J. Moore in “Lord, Give Me Patience!... And Give It to Me Right Now!”


Wednesday, October 21, 2020


Jesus asked, “Why do you call Me, 'LORD, LORD,' and do not do what I say?”  (Luke 6:46 NIV)

We are all obedient to someone or something. In our day and time, particularly in Western culture, we like to think of ourselves as individuals, the masters of our own destiny, self-made people. These notions of our own autonomy and individuality, however, are simply fantasies. We are shaped by culture. We are influenced by family and friends. We meet people whom we emulate, perhaps without even knowing it. At times we become enamored with charismatic leaders. We fall under the influence of advertising. The question is not whether someone or something exerts authority over our lives, but who or what does.

To say that Jesus is Lord means that we are intentionally giving Him authority over our lives. It means that we are committing ourselves to obeying what He taught. 

-- David Watson, in a chapter entitled “When Jesus Is Lord” from the book “A Firm Foundation”


Tuesday, October 20, 2020


“For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to Him, and to keep His commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.”   (Deuteronomy 30:16 NIV)

Does character really matter? The collective wisdom of the ages would say it matters a great deal. In both classical and biblical cultures -- civilizations that have been so deeply formative to our own -- people well understood there to be a direct association between the character of individuals and the well-being of the society as a whole. Individual character was essential to decency, order, and justice within public life. Without it, hardship was not far off. … Indeed, much of the history of the ancient Hebrews can be told as a story of blessing for faithfulness to God -- abiding by God’s standard of holiness -- and punishment for abandoning those standards.  

-- James Davison Hunter in “The Death of Character”


Monday, October 19, 2020


"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus."  (Romans 3:23-24 NIV)

Don’t call it a mistake, an unfortunate choice, a slipup, a disease, an addiction, a boo-boo, or “my bad.” Call it sin.

Around 1,600 years ago, Augustine wrote in his “Confessions,” “My sin was all the more incurable because I did not think myself a sinner.” That’s why preachers need that word that tells a vast story in only three letters. Without seeing the depths of sin, we’ll never understand the heights of God’s love and grace. 

-- Kyle Idleman in “The End of Me”


Friday, October 16, 2020


"So God created human beings in His own image. In the image of God He created them; male and female He created them."  (Genesis 1:27 NLT)

Clearly, God did not create us with desires simply so that we would renounce them. As Paul insisted, this world is God’s creation.  Like a loving parent, the God who created us wants for us the best, most satisfying life possible.

Christianity does not promise the ultimate in personal pleasure, a life oriented around hedonism.  Rather, it promises an ordering of life -- a putting together, not a reduction -- so that we realize pleasures as they were intended by our Creator.  Otherwise, we risk indulging to our own destruction, like an alcoholic who determines how much to drink.  Abuses arise from regarding pleasure as an end in itself rather than a pointer to something more.  "Perfect are the good desires You have given me," prayed Pascal; "Be their End, as You have been their Beginning."

-- Philip Yancey in “Rumors of Another World”


Thursday, October 15, 2020


"As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for You, O God. I thirst for God, the living God."  (Psalm 42:1-2a NLT)

What has your attention at this very moment? This reading? Perhaps, but we all know that we can give modest attention to several things at once. We eat, read, and listen for the phone all at the same time. When our search for something consumes all our energy and all our faculties, everything else fades away and disappears. Even a ringing phone goes unanswered when we are seeking to give answer to another call deep within. What are you searching for that consumes all your energy and attention? The quest for God is a search worthy of such all-consuming passion and energy. 

-- Norman Shawchuck and Rueben P. Job in “A Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God” 


Wednesday, October 14, 2020


"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast."  (Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV)

Grace is something you can never get but can only be given.  There's no way to earn it or deserve it or bring it about any more than you can deserve the taste of raspberries and cream or earn good looks or bring about your own birth.

A good sleep is grace and so are good dreams.  The smell of rain is grace.   Somebody loving you is grace.  Loving somebody is grace.  Have you ever tried to love somebody?

A crucial eccentricity of the Christian faith is the assertion that people are saved by grace.  There's nothing you HAVE to do.  There's nothing you have to DO.

The grace of God means something like: Here is your life.  You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn't have been complete without you.  Here is the world.  Beautiful and terrible things will happen.  Don't be afraid.  I am with you.  Nothing can ever separate us.  It's for you I created the universe.  I love you. 

-- Frederick Buechner


Tuesday, October 13, 2020


"God comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us."  (2 Corinthians 1:4 NLT)

The Greek word for comfort means “to give forth sighs, to call alongside, or to help.” The English definition is “to ease, encourage, inspirit, or enliven.” Comfort combines encouragement with easing of grief. “God does not comfort us to make us comfortable, but to make us comforters.”  (John Henry Jowett)

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


Monday, October 12, 2020


Even 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)

The dread of illness can be more damaging than the illness. The fear of failure can be more fatal than the failure. Go through the list of phobias which have multiplied in an age of anxiety and see how many of them are what Archibald MacLeish called "faceless fears." That is, they have no substance, no shape, no bodily image that you can face or fight. They're shadows. Fear of the dark -- fear of open places -- fear of closed places -- fear of criticism -- fear of the future -- fear of old age -- fear of death -- all the way to phobophobia, which is the fear of fear. There are seventy-two listed phobias, most of them shadows, ghosts. They have no power to hurt except through fear of them.

Obviously then, one of the great needs of life is to keep our fears manageable. And one of the great contributions that religious faith makes to wholesome life is right here. Nothing takes the fear out of life so much as an awareness deep within of God's nearness and His loving concern. "I will fear no evil for You are with me." The particular dread the psalmist speaks about is the common fear of death. He likens it to a shadow: "though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…"  There's nothing much to fear in a shadow. The shadow of a dog can't bite. The shadow of a snake can't sting. And when life is undergirded by a consciousness of God's presence and concern, we're released from the fear of many shadows and get beyond the reach of many seeming evils. 

-- Wallace Hamilton in “Where Now Is Thy God?” 


Friday, October 9, 2020


“Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord, is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation."  (Isaiah 12:2 NIV) 

There is always a fight between faith and fear. Every single one of us face it head on in our lives, from time to time. But the one thing we can know, without a doubt, is this: the way to peace in our lives is never found by following our fear, but only by living from our faith.

-- Eric Folkerth


Thursday, October 8, 2020


“Set your hope fully on the grace to be given you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not conform to the passions of your former ignorance. But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do, for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’”  (1 Peter 1:13b-16)

Though we may seem to be doing nothing worthwhile in this world, we can be doing everything worthwhile if our lives are being styled by God’s grace. Set aside through sickness or seclusion, we can still be immensely prolific. Bed-ridden or house-bound, our holiness by itself can yet bear fruit. We don’t have to be good for anything to be useful; just good.

Good people do more good than they ever know. Lighthouse keepers never know how many ships they have turned away from the rocks. Their duty is to shine, not look for results. 

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


Wednesday, October 7, 2020


“When they saw who [Jesus] was, He disappeared. They said to each other. ‘It felt like a fire burning in us when Jesus talked to us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us.” (Luke 24:31-32 NCV)

Jesus comes to set you on fire! He walks as a torch from heart to heart, warming the cold and thawing the chilled, and stirring the ashes. He is at once [an intentional brush fire that clears the land] and a welcome candle. He comes to purge infection and illuminate your direction.

The fire in your heart is the light of your path. Disregard it at your own expense. Fan it at your own delight. Blow it. Stir it. Nourish it. Cynics will doubt it. Those without it will mock it. But those who know it -- those who know Him -- will understand.

To meet the Savior is to be set aflame. To discover the flame is to discover His will. And to discover His will is to access a world like none you’ve ever seen. 

-- Max Lucado in “The Great House of God”


Tuesday, October 6, 2020


“When they saw who [Jesus] was, He disappeared. They said to each other. ‘It felt like a fire burning in us when Jesus talked to us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us.” (Luke 24:31-32 NCV)

Don’t you love that verse? They knew they had been with Jesus because of the fire within them. God reveals His will by setting a torch in your soul. He gave Jeremiah a fire for hard hearts. He gave Nehemiah a fire for a forgotten city. He set Abraham on fire for a land he’d never seen. He set Isaiah on fir with a vision he couldn’t resist. Forty years of fruitless preaching didn’t extinguish the fire of Noah. Forty years of wilderness wandering didn’t douse the passion of Moses. Jericho couldn’t slow Joshua, and Goliath didn’t deter David. There was a fire within them.

And isn’t there one in you? Want to know God’s will for your life? Then answer this question: What ignites your heart? Forgotten orphans? Untouched nations? The inner city? The outer limits? Heed the fire within!

Do you have a passion to sing? Then sing! Are you stirred to manage? Then manage! Do you ache for the ill? Then treat them! Do you hurt for the lost? The reach them! 

-- Max Lucado in “The Great House of God”


Monday, October 5, 2020


“So Jacob told everyone in his household, ‘Get rid of all your pagan idols, purify yourselves, and put on clean clothing. We are now going to Bethel, where I will build an altar to the God who answered my prayers when I was in distress. He has been with me wherever I have gone.’”  (Genesis 35:2-3  NLT)

The heart's slavish and dogged devotion to its idol is what fathers of the Church have called "the bondage of the will".  This bondage becomes most painfully apparent in our lives when we earnestly feel the need of changing but cannot; when we are attracted to another value that for one reason or another conflicts with the desires of our true god -- that value nearest and dearest to us.  But our true god lies so deeply inside us that often we are not even consciously aware of its presence or of what it actually is.

-- Robert L. Short in “The Parables of Peanuts”


Friday, October 2, 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 heart of salvation is the Cross of Christ. The reason salvation is so easy to obtain is that it cost God so much. The Cross was the place where God and sinful man merged with a tremendous collision and where the way to life was opened. But all the cost and pain of the collision was absorbed by the heart of God. 

-- Oswald Chambers in “My Utmost for His Highest” 


Thursday, October 1, 2020


“For Christ also died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the Spirit.”  (1 Peter 3:18 RSV)

The grace of God is found in His great love for sinners, in His longing to do them good. His Son Jesus Christ personifies grace, for by the offering up of His body, sinners are made whole and pure, once and for all.   

-- John Bunyan