Monday, November 30, 2020


It’s appropriate that at the end of Luke’s Gospel (chapter 24), Luke recounts the interaction Jesus had with a couple of His disciples walking along the road to Emmaus. Jesus -- the Messiah -- has been crucified, and the disciples are perplexed, unable to piece it all together. How did the Savior just die? But along comes Jesus, disguised as He has been throughout Scripture, and He opens their eyes to see that the whole of Scripture is really about Him.

He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter His glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself. (Luke 24:25-27 NIV) Luke recounts that their “hearts burned within them” (verse 32) as their minds were opened.

Luke reveals to us an important fact: Knowing God’s plan and gift of salvation is deeply rooted in knowing the entire story. The good news doesn’t just reside in Part 2 of the Bible, the New Testament. The entire story of the Bible is about one person, one plan, one goal. That person is Jesus, that plan is redemption, the goal is the glory of God. It’s really a pretty simple storyline. 

-- Adapted from Tom Hudzina in “Four Sevens: Meeting With Jesus in the Gospel of Luke”


Friday, November 27, 2020


“Whatever happens, keep thanking God because of Jesus Christ. This is what God wants you to do.”  (1 Thessalonians 5:18 CEV)

Recently I had a conversation with someone who was naming things she is grateful for during this challenging season. "I'm glad I'm in a grateful mood," she said. But what I heard in her story wasn't a "mood," but a posture. She has practiced the spiritual discipline of gratitude for many years, and I had the privilege of hearing the fruit of it. Through habit, her practice of giving thanks has become so integrated in her life that it flows out with joy -- not just for the obvious gifts, but for the gifts that are more difficult to see, name, and receive. Listening to her describe God's unexpected blessings during a season of restriction, limitations, and change inspired my gratitude too.

-- Excerpted from “Updates From Sharon Garlough Brown” Newsletter


Wednesday, November 25, 2020


Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever.”  (Psalm 107:1 NLT)

Returning thanks for blessings already received increases our faith and enables us to approach God with new boldness and new assurance. Doubtless the reason so many have so little faith when they pray is because they take so little time to meditate upon and thank God for blessings already received. As one meditates on the answer to prayers already granted, faith waxes bolder and bolder, and we come to feel in the very depths of our souls that there is nothing too hard for the Lord. As we reflect upon the wondrous goodness of God toward us on the one hand, and upon the other hand upon little thought and strength and time that we ever put into thanksgiving, we may well humble ourselves before God and confess our sin.  

-- R. A. Torrey


Tuesday, November 24, 2020


“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18  NIV)

Our joys, prayers, and thankfulness should not fluctuate with our circumstances or feelings. Obeying these three commands -- be joyful, keep on praying, and be thankful -- often goes against our natural inclinations. When we make a conscious decision to do what God says, however, we will begin to see people [and circumstances] in a new perspective. When we do God’s will, we will find it easier to be joyful and thankful.

Paul was not teaching that we should thank God for everything that happens to us, but in everything. Evil does not come from God, so we should not thank Him for it. But when evil strikes, we can still be thankful for God’s presence and for the good that He will accomplish through the distress.

-- From the “Life Application Study Bible”


Monday, November 23, 2020


“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but 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 2:20)

"Do you not know that your body is a Temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body."  (1 Corinthians 6:19,20)

My life has been paid for by Jesus Christ. My life belongs to Him. Therefore, I can't do what "I" want to do, I must do what "He" wants me to do. 

-- Ron Brown, Assistant Coach, University of Nebraska, in Sports Spectrum


Friday, November 20, 2020


Jesus said, "It is written: 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"  (Matthew 4:4 NIV)

George Mueller, the man of great faith in nineteenth-century England, shared his reason for spiritual power: “The first thing to be concerned about was not how much I might serve the Lord, but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man might be nourished… I began therefore to meditate on the New Testament from the beginning, early in the morning. The first thing I did, after having asked in a few words the Lord’s blessing upon His precious Word, was to begin to meditate on the Word of God, searching out of it, not for the sake of public ministry of the Word, not for the sake of preaching on what I had meditated upon, but for obtaining for my own soul.”

You don’t get food for your soul by osmosis! You can hear others talk of it; but until you regularly take in the delicious Word of God, you’re undernourished. 

-- Ray & Anne Ortlund in “Renewal: An Influencer Discussion Guide”


Thursday, November 19, 2020


“We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind.”  (Isaiah 64:6 NLT)

According to a radio report, a middle school in Oregon faced a unique problem. A number of girls began to use lipstick and put it on in the school bathroom. After they put on their lipstick, they pressed their lips to the mirrors leaving dozens of little lip prints.

Finally the principal decided something had to be done. She called the girls to the bathroom and met them there with the custodian. She explained lip prints caused a major problem for the custodian, who had to clean the mirrors every day. To demonstrate how difficult it was, she asked the custodian to clean one of the mirrors. He took out a long-handled brush, dipped it into the toilet, and scrubbed the mirror. Since then there have been no lip prints on the mirrors.

When tempted to sin, if we could only see the real filth we’d be kissing, we wouldn’t be attracted to it. 

-- Brett Kays, cited in “Perfect Illustrations for Every Topic and Occasion”


Wednesday, November 18, 2020


Jesus said, “So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”  (Matthew 6:31-33 NIV)

Jesus is saying that more will happen, more will get done, when we put Him first in our lives. When we keep order in our daily lives, then we keep our priorities clear. Order communicates priority. As Christians, we can be really busy doing a lot of good stuff for the wrong reasons. We slip into a mind-set of doing more so that we can feel like we’re closer to God or better Christians. But if we’re not spending one-on-one, intimate time with God each day and then acting  out of the overflow of that relationship rather than the other way around, then we have lost sight of why we’re doing all that we’re doing. One thing must come first and lead to the other. The order can’t be flipped. Whatever we put first place becomes the organizing principle for the other parts of our life. 

-- Chris Hodges in “The Daniel Dilemma: How to Stand Firm and Love Well in a Culture of Compromise”


Tuesday, November 17, 2020


“It’s impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that He exists and that He cares enough to respond to those who seek Him.”  (Hebrews 11:6 The Message)

Faith is the belief that God is real and that God is good.  Faith is not a mystical experience or a midnight vision or a voice in the forest… it is a choice to believe that the One who made it all hasn't left it all and that He still sends light into shadows and responds to gestures of faith…

Faith is not the belief that God will do what you want.  Faith is the belief that God will do what is right. 

God’s economy is upside down (or right side up and ours is upside down!). God says that the more hopeless your circumstances, the more likely your salvation. The greater your cares, the more genuine your prayers. The darker the room, the greater the need for light. God’s help is near and always available, but it is only given to those who seek it. Nothing results from apathy…

Do something that reveals your faith.  For faith with no effort is no faith at all.  God will respond.  He has never rejected a genuine gesture of faith.  Never. 

-- Max Lucado in “Life Lessons with Max Lucado: Book of Hebrews”


Monday, November 16, 2020


In my experience, it is much easier to act like a Christian than it is to react like one. Most of us are good actors -- we can play the part. But our reactions reveal who we really are. And maybe that is why Jesus focused so much of His teaching on reconditioning reflexes.

Pray for those who persecute you… Love your enemies… Bless those who curse you… If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles… If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.

What is the natural reaction when someone slaps you? You feel like slapping him back, right? But supernatural reaction is both counterintuitive and counterreactive. Jesus taught us to turn the other cheek. Think of it as a spiritual aikido. We absorb the sinful energy of others and convert it into a righteous response. So persecution becomes a catalyst for prayer. Hatred inspires love. And we convert curses into blessings.

Is there anybody in your life who brings out the worst in you? When you're around them, you react in ways you later regret. Or maybe it's someone who gets on your nerves or under your skin. Here's my advice: pray for them! Nothing reconditions our spiritual reflexes like prayer. Start praying for the difficult people in your life, and it will change the way you feel about them. 

-- Mark Batterson in “Wild Goose Chase: Reclaim the Adventure of Pursuing God”


Friday, November 13, 2020


Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life." (John 14:6a NRSV)

The way implies that which is to be followed in order to get to a specific place. We are always going somewhere in life. It is like having a map that enables us to get from where we are to where we want to be. Such a condition raises the question, "Where do we want to be?" The Westminster Catechism answers the question, "What is the chief end of man?" (i.e. What is the purpose of life?) "The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever." The prophet Micah asked the question this way, "... what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God" (Micah 6:8). To walk with God means to follow the pathway that He would have us travel. Jesus is the way.

That way must be the true way if it is to lead to fullness of life. Jesus warned, "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them ..." (Matthew 7:15,16). What a clear object lesson. The sheep are gentle, who would be afraid of them? But a violent, angry, savage wolf is a creature to fear and avoid. False ideas, false ways, a false inner spirit, leads astray. When we are mislead we cannot get to where we want to be, where we ought to be. The false prophet, the false leader, the false witness, all seek to injure us or at least manipulate us for their own advantage. The true guide in life seeks the good of the ones he or she is leading. As Jesus said, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full" (John 10:10). Jesus not only teaches what is true, He is the truth. Jesus said, before Pilate, "...for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to Me" (John 18:37). So it is our faith that the way Jesus leads is the way that is true; and being true, it is the way that leads to life. 

-- Rev. Kenneth A. Mortonson in “What Do You See?” 


Thursday, November 12, 2020


“Your own soul is nourished when you are kind, but you destroy yourself when you are cruel.”  (Proverbs 11:17)

Words are so important.   A word can excite or depress.  A word can make us glad or sad or mad.  Words can inspire and lift our spirits or defeat and deflate our souls.  Words can motivate and encourage, or they can crush and kill.  Words can convince us to stand tall for what is right, or they can destroy hope and blast reputations.  Words can offer a beautiful prayer and preach a powerful sermon, or they can incite a riot or tell a dirty joke.

The words we choose -- and the way we use them -- communicate more about us and our faith than we can possibly imagine.  Profane words, bigoted words, hateful words, cruel words do not promote the cause of Christ or represent the spirit of Christ.  They never have and never will.  We dupe ourselves by calling our dirty talk mature, adult, realistic.  Come on, now!  What could be more immature, childish, and unrealistic?  If you want to be a good witness for Jesus Christ today, clean up your act and clean up your speech.  Speak the words of faith, hope, and love in a tone of compassion, kindness, and respect. 

--  James W. Moore in “When You're a Christian, the Whole World is from Missouri”  


Wednesday, November 11, 2020


“Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the LORD forgave you.”  (Colossians 3:12-13 NIV)

Frederick Buechner wrote, "Compassion is the sometimes fatal capacity for feeling what it is like to live inside somebody else's skin. It is the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy for you, too."

What is compassion? It is Jesus coming to earth to be like us, to identify with our human experience. One of His greatest desires is that we show the same compassion to others, that we show mercy and ease suffering…

Compassion doesn't come naturally to us. We are by nature self-centered. It takes time and a work of God's grace to develop compassion…

We learn compassion either by going through certain circumstances or by trying to imagine what other people are going through…

When we go through the death of a friend or family member, an illness, or a trying time, we often discover that the people who come alongside us and help the most are people who either have experienced the same difficulties or try to understand what we are going through without feeling a need to fix or make judgments.

Compassion reaches into hearts and lives, past barriers, past judgments, and brings the touch of God. 

-- William and Nancie Carmichael in “Lord Bless My Child”

Tuesday, November 10, 2020


Growth is not the ability to avoid problems. Growth is the ability to handle larger and more interesting problems.

One of the great questions to ask somebody is “What’s your problem?” And you might want to do that right now. We ought to ask each other pretty regularly, “What’s your problem?” by which I mean, “Do you have a problem worthy of your best energies, worthy of your life?”

What are you devoting yourself to solve? How do you want the world to be different because you’re in it? People who follow Jesus ask this question: “God, what problem in Your world would You like to use me to address?” Followers of Jesus intentionally embrace problems. 

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


Monday, November 9, 2020


“There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to Him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies, and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.”  (Proverbs 6:16-19)

“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’”  (Isaiah 52:7)

If you want to know who you are, watch your feet. Because where your feet take you, that is who you are. 

-- Frederick Buechner in “The Alphabet of Grace”


Friday, November 6, 2020


"Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness." (Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV)

To prepare for flight, the eagle spends an hour each day preening its feathers.  Perched high on a rock, the eagle methodically passes each feather, up to 1200 in all, through its mouth and breathes on each one.  This action produces a similar effect to steam cleaning.  Once the feathers are restored, the eagle is ready to soar through the sky.

The eagle also has a gland that secretes an oily liquid, making its feathers waterproof.  When it rains or the bird dives into water after prey, the eagle's feathers do not become heavy with water or endanger its ability to fly.

We, too, must renew ourselves daily before the Lord or we will become "grounded."  Without those necessary "quiet times," cares and concerns bring on anxieties and fears that slow us down.  We take on burdens we were never meant to carry... Worry comes from natural concerns that are part of our lives.  But when these legitimate concerns are handled wrongly, they dominate our lives.  Worry can make us forget that our caring God is in control and cause us to wonder about our future, over which we have no control.

Renewing ourselves is a daily process just as it is for the eagle.

-- Sheryl Lynn Hill in “Soar as the Eagle”


Thursday, November 5, 2020


Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”  (Philippians 2:4 BSB)

Truly listening to someone requires a lot more work than you probably think. Most of the time, we are spending our time thinking of what to say back to the person and inserting our opinion rather than listening to what they’re actually saying. Step back and listen for two things: what the other person is feeling and what the other person needs. Give them a chance to express those feelings and needs, and repeat back what they’ve said so they understand you are hearing them. Give them your full attention and be present in the moment. This will give you the ability to actually understand where they are fully coming from instead of only understanding half of the story. 

-- Adapted from Megan Bailey at


Wednesday, November 4, 2020


“Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.”  (Romans 12:15)

Empathy is defined as the feeling that you understand and share another person’s experiences and emotions. You see someone going through a struggling situation and you don’t only feel bad for them, but also feel the pain that they are going through. You are able to put yourself into that situation and understand what they must be feeling. It’s more than just listening to a friend when they’re sad, it’s actively working to understand exactly how the person feels and why.

Empathy is one of the best ways for us to show other people that we love and care about them. God gave us the tools and skills to show genuine empathy to others. Christians can use empathy to show the Lord’s love at work… You can be their beacon of light if you let God work through you. If you have a specific situation where you cannot connect with someone, pray to God and ask Him to give you the wisdom. He can give your heart what it needs to let that other person in. 

-- Adapted from Megan Bailey at


Tuesday, November 3, 2020


“The government will rest on His shoulders. And He will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”  (Isaiah 9:6b NLT)

O God, we acknowledge You today as Lord, not only of individuals but of nations and governments as well. As the Scripture says, we know that the government rests on Your shoulders, yet we act as if it all depends on us. Grant us the grace and the courage to put our trust and hope in You. You are our God, and there is no other. We acknowledge You are Lord of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen.

We confess that we are experiencing fear and anxiety today, yet we know You are greater than those things that come against us. We pray for the 2020 Presidential Election and ask for peace and safety for all, and for Your guidance.

We are grateful for the privilege of being able to organize ourselves politically. We are grateful for the freedom to vote and to express our political loyalties.

We confess to you sometimes we are so loyal to our politics that we lose sight of our brothers and sisters. We ask for eyes that are free from blindness so that we might see each other as brothers and sisters. We are one in the Body of Christ because we, all humanity, are created in Your image.

We confess our actions, our words, our rhetoric have caused divisions. We pray for this deeply divided nation. May we come together for the common good and do as you have called us to do - to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with You through creation. Help us act out of love, mercy, and justice rather than out of arrogance or fear.

God, our Creator, guide us in truth and love.

Help us to listen in love, work together in peace, and collaborate with one another as we seek to make our community and world the creation You intended from the beginning.

In the name of Jesus, our Savior, we pray. Amen.

-- from First United Methodist Church in Ormond Beach, Florida


Monday, November 2, 2020


“My sheep listen to My voice; I know them and My sheep follow Me.”  (John 10:27)

I believe God talks to us. Have I heard God speak to me in an audible voice? No.

Sometimes He speaks to me through Scripture. Sometimes He speaks to me through the words of a song, through reading or a sermon, through a quote of advice or admonition, through the honesty of a child, from a billboard or a bumper sticker, through a conversation with a family member or friend.

He always tells me things that are in line with His Holy Word. He does not always give me all the details. His information is always correct. When I follow His directions I will make no mistakes. He brings to pass everything He says.

I am amazed and humbled to realize that an awesome, omnipotent, sovereign God would want to communicate with me. But that’s one of the reasons He created us: He wants us to have fellowship with Him. People have tried to explain how to hear the voice of God. In my opinion, nobody has been able to describe it fully. I believe God’s sheep know the Shepherd’s voice by faith. 

-- Thelma Wells, quoted in “In This Quiet Place: Discovering the Pleasures of Prayer”