Friday, April 30, 2021


“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate before the Father -- Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He Himself is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”  (1 John 2:2 BSB)

By conveying the Bible to people… we thereby enable them to learn… that our gracious Creator has provided for us a Redeemer… that this Redeemer has made atonement "for the sins of the whole world", and thereby reconciling the Divine justice with the Divine mercy, has opened a way for our redemption and salvation; and that these inestimable benefits are of the free gift and grace of God, not of our deserving, nor in our power to deserve. 

-- Former U.S. Chief Justice John Jay, in an address on May 13, 1824 to the American Bible Society of which he was president.


Thursday, April 29, 2021


Jesus said, “If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for My sake, you will save it.”  (Matthew 16:25 NLT)

Until you have given up your self to Him you will not have a real self… Does that sound strange? The same principle holds, you know, for more everyday matters. Even in social life, you will never make a good impression on other people until you stop thinking about what sort of impression you are making… The principle runs through all life from top to bottom. Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it… Nothing that you have not given away will be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. 

-- C. S. Lewis in “Mere Christianity”


Wednesday, April 28, 2021


“Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”  (Matthew 6:10 NIV)

"On earth as it is in heaven." Jesus' prayer was, "Make up there come down here."  Make things down here run the way they do up there.

Jesus told us to pray, "Bring heaven down here."  We begin with our body, our mind, our appetites.  Then it spreads to the office, our family, our neighborhood, our church, our country.

God doesn't reveal Himself to us just to make us happy or to deliver us from loneliness.  He also comes to us so that we can in turn be conduits of His presence to other people.  He invites us to join Him in making things down here the way they are up there.

This news is the best news the human race has ever heard.  It is not just good news for the world around us; it is good news for us.  Psychologist Viktor Frankl wrote, "What man actually needs is not a tensionless state, but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him.  What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost, but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him."

This is maybe the most dangerous, exciting, life-altering prayer a human being can pray: "God make up there come down here."  Every time you pray it, your life becomes Beth-el, the place where God dwells. 

-- John Ortberg in “God Is Closer Than You Think” 


Tuesday, April 27, 2021


“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)

When my iPhone started misbehaving a while back,… we did a hard reset. It’s also known as a factory reset because the iPhone is restored to the original manufacturer’s setting it had when it left the factory floor… All the settings, applications, and data are wiped clean. It’s a fresh start. It’s a new phone.

You are a new creation [in Christ]… New as in factory reset. It doesn’t mean like new. It means brand new! It’s new in time, new in nature…

When you put your faith in Christ, it’s a hard reset. It doesn’t just clear the cache. It completely clears your history, as if it never happened. That’s what the word justified means -- just as if I’d never sinned.

That’s more than a mnemonic device. It’s more than a paradigm shift. It’s a factory reset.

At the cross, Jesus turns if only regrets into what if possibilities. He sets us free from sin and the shameful feelings that go with it. The prison doors of past guilt and future fear fly wide open… They cannot coexist with God’s perfect love. His love reboots our heart, our soul, and our mind so that we can be fully alive, fully present… Amazing, isn’t it? 

-- Mark Batterson in “If: Trading Your If Only Regrets for God’s What If Possibilities”


Monday, April 26, 2021


"[Love] is not irritable or resentful…"  (1 Corinthians 13:5b NRSV)

It certainly is easy to be irritated at one another, and to become resentful of one another. Sometimes, of course, these reactions may be caused by fatigue or other circumstances. Husbands and wives know how easy it is to react hastily under the pressure of family tensions. But they know also that such reactions do not really contradict the genuine love that unites them. In the less personal relations of society this is not nearly so obvious. So we need to be aware that irritation and resentment are destructive. They betray lack of trust and goodwill.

It is intended "that there may be no discord in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another" (12:25). If we learn to care for one another, and trust one another, we will be less inclined to burst out in irritation or resentment. 

-- Chester A. Pennington in “A More Excellent Way”


Friday, April 23, 2021


“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”  (Romans 12:2 NLT)

Being a people in mission is not merely a matter of strategies and methods; it is a matter of spiritual formation. Being in mission requires us to have a trusting relationship with God and ourselves that is more than the mere learning of facts. Formation is a process through which a relationship develops and shapes our very personality. Out of that deep personal experience, values and commitments originate and love grows. 

-- Bishop Raymond Schultz, ELC in Canada


Thursday, April 22, 2021


My concern has been to show another dimension of the Bible’s teaching about suffering – the dimension of hope. Someday all the pain and suffering of this world will be gloriously banished. Because of what Jesus Christ did for us through His cross and resurrection, we know that we have hope for the future. We know that in heaven every sin and evil will be banished, and suffering will be no more. The Apostle Paul said, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.”

In showing something of what the future life is going to be like, we see how the glory that lies ahead is far greater than any sufferings we might endure here.

But in the meantime, we are called to learn what it means to trust God in every circumstance, and to live for Him no matter what comes our way. 

-- Adapted from Billy Graham from the Preface to his book “Who’s in Charge of a World That Suffers?: Trusting God in Difficult Circumstances”


Wednesday, April 21, 2021


“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”  (Philippians 2:3-4 NIV)

We know the widest thing in the universe is not space; it is the potential capacity of the human heart.  Being made in the image of God, it is capable of almost unlimited extension in all directions.  And one of the world's greatest tragedies is that we allow our hearts to shrink until there is room in them for little besides ourselves.

-- A.W. Tozer (1897-1963) 


Tuesday, April 20, 2021


“If you become angry, do not let your anger lead you into sin, and do not stay angry all day. Don't give the Devil a chance.”  (Ephesians 4:26-27 GNT)

Anger in itself is not a sin since “God is… angry with the wicked every day.” (Psalm 7:11) Anger is sinful when it flares without reflection; when it is disproportionate to the offense; when it lasts too long and becomes revengeful. 

-- From the New Unger’s Bible Dictionary


Monday, April 19, 2021


“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”  (Hebrews 4:16 NLT)

Prayer is our approach to God, and we are to come “boldly.” Some Christians approach God meekly with heads hung low, afraid to ask Him to meet their needs. Others pray flippantly, giving little thought to what they say. Come with reverence because He is your King. But also come with bold assurance because He is your [Loving Father], your Friend and Counselor. 

-- Life Application Study Bible, New Living Translation


Friday, April 16, 2021


“Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to His disciples after He was raised from the dead. When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love Me more than these?’”  (John 21:13-15 NIV)

“Do you love Me?” When Jesus asked Peter this question three times (see John 21:15,16,17), what was He really searching for?

Maybe Jesus was asking, “Peter, do you love Me more than yourself? Do you love Me more than the opinion of others? More than your own safety and comfort? More than your reputation? More than the memories of sin and failure? More than your career?”

Jesus was reaching into Peter’s heart and putting His finger on Peter’s core. Peter had just denied Jesus three times. Now Jesus was challenging Peter to love Him more -- and then to express his love through serving Jesus.

What about you? Is your motivation to serve Jesus an attempt to cover up guilty feelings? Or to earn forgiveness? Are you trying to prove something, to gain approval or recognition? Or is your primary motivation because you sincerely love Jesus more than anything?

Resolve to love Jesus more than anything. Then let your heart overflow in service. 

-- Adapted from Anne Graham Lotz in “Fixing My Eyes on Jesus”


Thursday, April 15, 2021


"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways," declares the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”  (Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV)

God wants us to know more than His character; He also wants us to learn His ways. You see, God’s ways are not our ways. We cannot know how God acts unless He teaches us. God is infinitely wise. He sees the future. He understands our world and everything that takes place in it. God knows the eternal consequences of every action, of every act of obedience or disobedience to His Word. God’s ways lead to life. His ways bring joy. They are holy and perfect. Doing things God’s way is always best. 

-- Henry Blackaby, Richard Blackaby and Claude King in “Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God”


Wednesday, April 14, 2021


“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”  (Matthew 1:23 NKJV)

In the birth of Jesus, we see God coming in weak and vulnerable human form. God chooses to share our location and condition. God is with us. In the death of Jesus, we see God present in our suffering human form. God chooses to take our part instead of being our enemy. God is for us. In the resurrection and ascension, we see God in victorious human form. In this form, insinuating Himself into the depths of our very being, God is in us -- as the Spirit of Christ. Three views of Jesus, three views of God.

Here, then, in a cameo, is the glory of God. Here is what God is really like. He is the God who is with is, the God who is for us, and the God who is in us. In short, when God shows His face, He always shows His grace; the treasure that He offers to lodge with us is nothing other than the grace of God. For when we say “grace”, we mean precisely this: the promise of God-with-us, the pardon of God-for-us, and the power of God-in-us.   

-- Lewis B. Smedes in “How Can It Be Right When Everything Is All Wrong?”


Tuesday, April 13, 2021


“At the top of the cross these words were written: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.” (Luke 23:38) Four quick verses later we read the petition of the thief: “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”

The thief knows he is in a royal mess. He turns his head and reads a royal proclamation and asks for royal help. It might have been this simple. If so, the sign was the first tool used to proclaim the message of the cross. Countless others have followed, from the printing press to the radio to the stadium crusade [to books to the internet.] But a crude wooden sign preceded them all. And because of the sign, a soul was saved. All because someone posted a sign on a cross. 

-- Max Lucado in “He Chose the Nails”


Monday, April 12, 2021


“For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”  (2 Corinthians 5:21 NLT)

This is the mystery of the riches of divine grace for sinners; for by a wonderful exchange, our sins are now not ours but Christ’s, and Christ’s righteousness is not Christ’s but ours.

-- Martin Luther


Friday, April 9, 2021


“If our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world. But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died.”  (I Corinthians 15:19-20 NLT)

Christianity did not begin with a group of people trying to remember and follow Jesus' teaching even though He was dead. It began with the belief that God had vindicated Jesus as the Messiah by raising Him from the dead. This is why one would be completely mistaken to think that Jesus was a good teacher whose followers eventually developed a myth about His being the Son of God. There would be no Christian movement today if His original followers had not been convinced that He had really risen from the dead. 

-- Mark Mittelberg in “The Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask”


Thursday, April 8, 2021


Jesus replied, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be My witnesses, telling people about Me everywhere -- in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  (Acts 1:8 NLT)

On the morning of the resurrection, God put life in the present tense, not in the future. God gave us not a promise but a presence. Not a hope for the future but power for the present. Not so much the assurance that we shall live someday but that He is risen today. Jesus’ resurrection is not to convince the incredulous nor to reassure the faithful, but to enkindle the believers. The proof that God raised Jesus from the dead is not the empty tomb, but the full hearts of His transformed disciples. The crowning evidence that He lives is not a vacant grave, but a Spirit-filled fellowship. Not a rolled-away stone, but a carried-away church. 

-- Clarence Jordan in “The Substance of Faith”


Wednesday, April 7, 2021


“Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ After He said this, He showed them His hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.” (John 20:19b-20 NIV)

Jesus' hands and feet were not just anyone's hands and feet, but the signs of His real bodily presence. They were the hands and feet of Jesus marked with the wounds of His Crucifixion.  It is of great spiritual importance that Jesus made Himself known to His disciples by showing them His wounded body.  The Resurrection had not taken His wounds away, but, rather, they had become part of His Glory.  They had become glorified wounds.

Jesus is the Lord who came to save us by dying for us on the Cross.  The wounds in Jesus' glorified body remind us of the way in which we are saved.  But they also remind us that our own wounds are much more than roadblocks on our way to God.  They show us our own unique way to follow the suffering Christ, and they are destined to become glorified in our resurrected life.  Just as Jesus was identified by His wounds, so are we.

This mystery is hard to grasp, but it is of the greatest importance in helping us to deal with our own brokenness. 

-- Henri Nouwen 


Tuesday, April 6, 2021


“If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of His Spirit who lives in you.”  (Romans 8:11 NIV)

No doubt the resurrection was the catalyst that created the church. Without it the followers of Jesus might well have returned to their jobs and homes with only pleasant memories of inspirational times together. They were already in transit, fleeing the cross in despair. There is no evidence that any of them knew the meaning of the Crucifixion, and their theology and ministry were yet to be discovered.

The Resurrection changed everything. The knowledge that Jesus lived again revived the flagging spirits of the disciples, and His appearances gave direction to their efforts. They learned what they were to do and how to go about it.

So the Resurrection is the central fact of the church. That is why we worship on Sunday instead of on Saturday, the Sabbath of the Hebrew faith. The Resurrection allows us to look to the future with confidence. 

-- William Carter in “Good News for God’s People: A Study of Romans” published by Abington Press


Monday, April 5, 2021


“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’”  (John 14:6 NIV)

Matthew reported that early on Easter morning, “There was a great earthquake” (Mathew 28:2). And nothing in this world has ever been the same. The Resurrection shifted the center of gravity in our lives so that everything we think about our world and our lives has changed. The empty tomb is God’s confirmation that the way, truth, and life revealed in Jesus Christ is the way the whole creation will be saved. 

-- James A. Harnish in “Easter Earthquake”


Friday, April 2, 2021


The power of the gospel isn't simply that God walked among us to show us the way we should live.  Jesus wasn't merely a prophet or a great teacher.  The central focus of the message of the Gospels is not the sermons, teachings, or even the miracles of Jesus.  No, each of the Gospels is focused on the last week of Jesus' life; the week He faced His own cruel death, racked with pain upon the cross.  Each paints a picture for us, first of Jesus experiencing our human condition of fear, of grief, of pain, when He cries out in the garden, "If it be Your will, let this cup pass from Me!"  His death on the cross is the focal point: God's Son bleeds; He dies; His family grieves; they suffer the agony of losing a loved one just as we do.  But this is not the end of the Gospels.  No, the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ comes on the third day, when Jesus rose from the grave! 

-- Adam Hamilton in “Confronting the Controversies”


Thursday, April 1, 2021


“Father, if it is Your will, take this cup from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.”  (Luke 22:42 NKJV)

Gaze in adoring wonder at the scene (Luke 22:39-46). The solidary figure etched against gnarled olive trees. The bloodlike sweat falling to the ground. The human longing: “Let this cup pass.” The final relinquishment: “Not My will but Yours be done.” We do well to meditate often on this unparalleled expression of relinquishment.

Here we have the incarnate Son praying through His tears and not receiving what He asks. Jesus knew the burden of unanswered prayer. He really did want the cup to pass, and He asked that it would pass. “If You are willing” was His questioning, His wondering. The Father’s will was not yet absolutely clear to Him. “Is there any other way?” “Can people be redeemed by some other means?” The answer – no! Andrew Murray writes, “For our sins, He suffered beneath the burden of that unanswered prayer.”

Here we have the complete laying down of human will. The battle cry for us is, “my will be done!” rather than, “Thy will be done.” 

-- Richard J. Foster in “Prayer”