Friday, May 28, 2021


Many centuries ago there was a man from Britain who visited Rome. He noticed that many Christians were not living very holy lives. Pelagius became disgusted and frustrated by it. He began to preach sermons focusing heavily on morality. He also taught that people could learn to be good if they'd just try harder. Have you ever caught yourself doing that? Many people leave Jesus behind because they think they can solve their problems on their own. This kind of false idea of God only reinforces their actual separation from Him. Pelagius was wrong, and his approach to human problems has been proven wrong again and again. The Bible says that, "Without faith it is impossible to please God." (Hebrews 11:6) 

-- Rev. Michael P. Walther


Thursday, May 27, 2021


“We love because God first loved us.”  (1 John 4:19 GNT)

Generosity begins not with what I give to God, but with what God has already given to me. The Bible says that extravagant, self-giving generosity is the tangible expression of the love that is in the very heart of God. We are generous to others because God has been so extravagantly generous to us.

Generosity is not optional for followers of Jesus Christ. It is the spiritual discipline that shapes our lives around the extravagant generosity of God. Our use of money undergoes a fundamental transformation when we stop asking how much of our wealth we will give to God and start asking how much of God’s wealth we will keep for ourselves. Generosity is the antidote to greed, which is one of the seven deadly sins. Greed is sinful because it is an inherent contradiction of the essential character of God. It is deadly because it results in spiritual arteriosclerosis that blocks the flow of God’s life into our lives and into the world. 

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


Wednesday, May 26, 2021


My research methodology may be unscientific, but the anecdotal evidence I have collected tells me that fewer than ten of every one hundred Christian men I talk with have an active, well-considered daily devotional life. That’s really a low number.

But here’s a piece of completely reliable corollary data that turns out to be remarkably interesting: 100 percent of those who do maintain a regular devotional discipline report that the daily routine pays off in ways that are nothing short of miraculous.

By miraculous I mean eternal, unremitting, awesome, satisfying, and unarguably life-changing. By miraculous I also mean a discernable improvement in their daily lives across the board. Relationships, parenting, work attitude, productivity, work satisfaction, effective Christian witness, love life -- need I go on? This is true even when the men I talk with believe they are just beginning to scratch the surface regarding their daily walk with God. The investment of just a few short but deliberate minutes, every day, makes a difference in the lives of Christian men that cannot be accounted for by any other variable.  

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


Tuesday, May 25, 2021


We condemn a man for stumbling this morning, but we didn’t see the blows he took yesterday. We judge a woman for the limp in her walk, but cannot see the tack in her shoe. We mock the fear in their eyes, but have no idea how many stones they have ducked or darts they have dodged.

Are they too loud? Perhaps they fear being neglected again. Are they too timid? Perhaps they fear failing again. Too slow? Perhaps they fell the last time they hurried. You don’t know. Only one who has followed yesterday’s steps can be their judge.

Not only are we ignorant about yesterday, we are ignorant about tomorrow. Dare we judge a book while chapters are yet unwritten? Should we pass a verdict on a painting while the artist still holds the brush? How can you dismiss a soul until God’s work is complete? “God began doing a good work in you, and I am sure He will continue until it is finished when Jesus Christ comes again.” (Philippians 1:6) 

-- Max Lucado in “In the Grip of Grace”


Monday, May 24, 2021


“You shall put these words of Mine in your heart and soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and fix them as an emblem on your forehead. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the Lord swore to your ancestors to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth.”  (Deuteronomy 11:18-21 NRSV)

Your child's greatest need is the security of knowing that you care. There is no better way to convey your love than to spend time with your child. Hours invested in your child will produce dividends now and in the future. You will be building a relationship, moment by moment, that will be the basis for a lifelong friendship between the two of you.

Don't be misled by the myth of "quality time" -- it is an admirable goal, but it should not be used as an excuse for missing "quantity time" with your child. Quality moments usually can't be scheduled. They happen spontaneously, without warning, in circumstances you don't anticipate. Those precious, teachable moments will be initiated by your child, while you're playing in the backyard, driving in the car, or staring at a worm in the dirt. For your children, all of the time you spend together can be "quality time" because it is then that they have what's most important to them -- your attention.

-- Bruce Bickel and Stan Jantz in “God Is in the Small Stuff”


Friday, May 21, 2021


“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”  (Acts 1:8 NKJV)

The world is not moved by love or actions that are of human creation. And the church is not empowered to live differently from any other gathering of people without the Holy Spirit. But when believers live in the power of the Spirit, the evidence in their lives is supernatural. The church cannot help but be different, and the world cannot help but notice. 

-- Francis Chan in “The Francis Chan Collection: Crazy Love, Forgotten God, Erasing Hell, and Multiply”


Thursday, May 20, 2021


“If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  (1 John 1:9 ESV)

At the heart of it, confession involves taking appropriate responsibility for what we have done. This is not easy to do. We try to slip out of it. What starts as a confession often ends up an excuse: "I didn't mean to yell at you; I was having a bad day."

To confess means to own up to the fact that our behavior wasn't just the result of bad parenting, poor genes, jealous siblings, or a chemical imbalance from too many Twinkies. Any or all of those factors may be involved. Human behavior is a complex thing. But confession means saying that somewhere in the mix was a choice, and the choice was made by us, and it does not need to be excused, explained, or even understood. The choice needs to be forgiven. The slate has to be wiped clean.

-- John Ortberg in “The Life You've Always Wanted” 


Wednesday, May 19, 2021


“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to… comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion -- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.”  (Isaiah 61:1a, 2b-3 NIV)

In our personal lives, when we place our sorrows and suffering in God’s hands, we find God redeems the suffering and uses it for our good…

A man who recently had a brush with death wrote to say, “My wife says I am a different person, more loving, more caring, more compassionate, more appreciative of everyday things since my diagnosis, and she is right.” A woman who went through a two-year period of unemployment tells me that, while she would not wish this on anyone, her entire perspective on life and faith was changed as a result of the experience. She told me that today she thanks God for this time of adversity. I have walked with dozens of parents who have lost children. They don’t thank God for the loss of their children; they know that God did not “take” their children. But they do tell me, years later, how God sustained them and used their pain to change them, and how the trajectory of their lives was different, deeper, and more meaningful, as a result of the terrible grief they endured. 

-- Adam Hamilton in “Why?: Making Sense of God’s Will”


Tuesday, May 18, 2021


Many years ago I traveled to my mother’s house in West Texas to see my uncle. He had journeyed from California to visit the grave of my dad. He hadn’t been able to make it to the funeral some months earlier.

Uncle Billy reminded me of my father. They looked so much alike: square bodied and ruddy complexion. We laughed, talked, and reminisced. When time came for me to leave, Uncle Billy followed me out to my car. We paused to say good-bye. He reached up and placed his hand on my shoulder and said, “Max, I want you to know, your dad was very proud of you.”

I contained the emotion until I pulled away. Then I began to blubber like a six-year-old.

We never outgrow our need for a father’s love. We were wired to receive it. May I serve the role of an Uncle Billy in your life? The hand on the shoulder is mine. The words I give you are God’s. Receive them slowly. Don’t filter, resist, downplay, or deflect them. Just receive them.

“My child. I want you in My Kingdom. I have swept away your offenses like the morning clouds, your sins like the morning mist. I have redeemed you. The transaction is sealed; the matter is settled. I, God, have made My choice. I choose you to be part of My forever family.”

Let these words cement in your heart a deep, satisfying, fear-quenching confidence that God will never let you go. You belong to Him. 

-- Max Lucado in “Grace: More Than We Deserve, Greater Than We Imagine”


Monday, May 17, 2021


“Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God…”  (John 1:12 NIV)

To remember who creates and recreates, who calls us again and again, who knows us completely, and who loves us unconditionally is to be prepared, as Jesus was, for all that is to come.

We need have no fear of today or anxiety about tomorrow. We belong to God who claims us as beloved children and holds us close in the embrace of strength and love. Listen and remember today that God calls your name, and be transformed and sustained in all that awaits you. 

-- Rueben P. Job, Norman Shawchuck, and John S. Mogabgab in “A Guide to Prayer for All Who Walk with God” Upper Room Books. Used by permission.


Friday, May 14, 2021


“‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’”  (Romans 10:13-15 NIV)

All other businesses we do for living, and for leaving good and great footprints, are good! In fact, we must not let our gifts and talents be idle, but in all our endeavors we must not forget that there is one more noble business than any, and that is touching and saving lives for the Kingdom of God, in truth and in spirit, and proclaiming the coming of Jesus Christ with all due diligence, understanding, humility, courage and fortitude! 

-- Ernest Agyemang Yeboah


Thursday, May 13, 2021


When I talk to people about serving God, one of the saddest responses I hear is, “God doesn’t want me. Not after what I’ve done.” They assume God is just like a lot of people they know. He writes us off. He holds grudges. We’ll never meet His standards. Our mistakes are many, our failures are well known, and our reputation is shot.

Don’t you think Peter must have felt this way? Here’s a guy Jesus personally chose and spent a lot of time with. It had to mean something when Jesus called him the Rock -- what guy wouldn’t like being given that name?

But after he did exactly what Jesus told him he would do -- denying Him at the moment of crisis -- Peter retreated to his old life and figured he was off the list. Jesus had made it a point to tell him he’d fail. Why would He do that? Peter probably thought Jesus was saying, “You’re not going to make it after all. Watch how you screw up in a few hours.”

Peter went fishing, the only other life he knew. That’s it for me. My time came, and I struck out. Out there on the boat that early morning, he reflected on the shipwreck of all his dreams. Jesus had qualified him, and that was a miracle. Peter had disqualified himself, and that was a tragedy.

Then he looked up to see a figure on the shore. Against all odds, it was Jesus, waving at him, telling him there was still work to do, and what was he doing out on that boat? I still choose you. 

-- Kyle Idleman in “The End of Me: Where Real Life in the Upside-Down Ways of Jesus Begins” 


Wednesday, May 12, 2021


“Now this is eternal life: that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.”  (John 17:3 NIV)

When the spiritual dimension is strong in a church, members are able to experience God. They discover that God isn’t just “out there,” that God is “above all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:6) As members become more open spiritually, they become more open to an intimate relationship with each person of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They have an intimate encounter with the Trinity, even if they don’t necessarily describe this encounter in Trinitarian terms. They come to know God more than speculate about God. As a result, they also grow in their ability to encounter and experience God in Scripture, others, their own hearts, and the events of life. 

-- Adapted from N. Graham Standish in “Becoming a Blessed Church: Forming a Church of Spiritual Purpose, Presence, and Power”


Tuesday, May 11, 2021


“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”  (Galatians 4:4-6 NRSV)

Of all His names, Father is God’s favorite. We know He loves this name most because this is the one He used most. While on earth, Jesus called God “Father” over two hundred times. In His first recorded words Jesus explained, “Didn’t you know that I must be in My Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49). In His final triumphant prayer He proclaims, “Father, I give You My life” (Luke 23:46). In the Gospel of John alone, Jesus repeats this name 156 times. God loves to be called Father. After all, didn’t Jesus teach us to begin our prayer with the phrase, “Our Abba”?

"Abba” was, to Jesus, an everyday word, and remains so to Israel’s children even today. It is an affectionate, family word. The equivalent would be Poppa, Daddy or Dad. It is right for you to call God your Creator; indeed He is. You speak truth when you call Him your Master; indeed He is. It is appropriate for you to call Him your King, Lord and Sovereign God. But if you want to touch His heart, call Him by the name He loves to hear. Call Him “Abba.” Call Him your “Father.” 

-- Max Lucado


Monday, May 10, 2021


It seems an angel slipped out of heaven and spent the day roaming around on earth. As the sun was setting, he decided he wanted to take along some mementos of his visit. He noticed some lovely roses in a flower garden, plucked the rarest and most beautiful, and made a bouquet to take back to heaven.

Looking on a bit farther, he saw a beautiful little baby smiling at his mother's face. The baby's smile was even prettier than the bouquet of roses, so he took that, too. He was about to leave when he saw the mother's love pouring out like a gushing river toward the little baby in the cradle, and he said to himself, "Oh, that mother's love is the prettiest thing I have seen on earth; I will carry that, too."

He winged his way to heaven, but just outside the pearly gates he decided to examine his mementos to see how well they had made the trip. The flowers had withered, the baby's smile had faded, but the mother's love was still there in all its warmth and beauty. He discarded the withered flowers and the faded smile, gathered all the hosts of heaven around him, and said, "Here's the only thing I found on earth that would keep its beauty all the way to heaven -- it is a mother's love."

-- Unknown, quoted by Barbara Johnson in “So, Stick a Geranium in Your Hat and Be Happy!”


Friday, May 7, 2021


“Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 1:2-6 NIV)

Prayer is not a luxury or merely a spiritual exercise. It is the greatest integrative force we know. I don’t mean the kind of prayer that asks for things to support our lifestyle or prayer to vindicate the rightness of our understanding but prayer that with an open heart and open mind brings the things of our everyday life, our problems and concerns, and the people in our life to God. This prayer bridges the gap we so often sense between our daily lives and our spiritual lives. It relates everything to God in the knowledge that He cares and understands. And often in praying about the things that confuse us and pull us in many directions, we find that in laying them out before God the relative importance of things becomes clearer, we remember things we had overlooked, and in that we begin to sense something of God’s “grace and peace.” 

-- Earl F. Palmer in “Integrity in a World of Pretense: Insights from the Book of Philippians”


Thursday, May 6, 2021


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)

Off the coast of Scotland is a little island where Christianity first took place in the nation. To accommodate the many tourists who want to make a trip across the bay to visit the historic site, there is a rental shop on the mainland where transportation can be obtained. Over the door of the small building, emblazoned in bold letters, is a signboard: “VISIT THE HOLY ISLE.” Then, more to the point, underneath are the words: “WE CAN TAKE YOU.”

In a much more profound sense, those last words express what the church should be doing -- taking people where the saints have trod. In practical terms, this means bringing men and women into the deeper and ever-expanding dimensions of holiness.

Such a ministry does not for a moment minimize the necessity of conversion, for the kingdom life cannot be entered until one is born of the Spirit. But the mandate of Christ is not to make converts, but to “make disciples” -- followers of Jesus -- persons who will develop into the likeness of the Master (Matthew 28:19-20). 

-- Robert E. Coleman in “Nothing to Do But to Save Souls: John Wesley’s Charge to His Preachers”


Wednesday, May 5, 2021


“Perfect love expels all fear.” (1 John 4:18) Couldn’t you use some fear expulsion? We can relate to the story of Louis Armstrong. The famous trumpeter grew up in rural Louisiana in the early 1900s. When he was a young boy, his Aunt Haddie often sent him to the creek for water. On one occasion, as he leaned over to fill his bucket, an alligator so scared the youngster that he dropped the pail and ran. His aunt told him to go back and get the water. “That alligator,” she assured, “is just as scared of you as you are of it.”

“If that’s the case,” he answered, “then the creek water ain’t fit to drink.”

Alligators lurk in our creeks, too. And when we see them, we react. We fear rejection, so we follow the crowd. We fear not fitting in, so we take the drugs. For fear of standing out, we wear what everyone else wears. For fear of blending in, we wear what no one else wears. For fear of sleeping alone, we sleep with anyone. For fear of not being loved, we search for love in all the wrong places.

But God flushes those fears. Those saturated in God’s love don’t sell out to win the love of others. They don’t even sell out to win the love of God.

Do you think you need to? Do you think, If I cuss less, pray more, drink less, study more… If I try harder, God will love me more? Sniff and smell Satan’s stench behind those words. We all need improvement, but we don’t need to woo God’s love. We change because we already have God’s love. God’s perfect love. 

-- Max Lucado in “Come Thirsty: No Heart Too Dry for His Touch”


Tuesday, May 4, 2021


“Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 3:13-14 NRSV)

The sure sign that we have an authentic relationship with God is that we believe more in the future than in the past. The past can be neither a source of confidence nor a condemnation. God graciously divided our life into days and years so that we could let go of yesterdays and anticipate our tomorrows. For the past mistakes, God offers forgiveness and an ability to forget. For our tomorrows, He gives us the gift of expectation and excitement. 

-- Dr. Lloyd John Ogilvie in “God’s Best for My Life”


Monday, May 3, 2021


"For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, not angels, nor principalities, now powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39)

In the final days of his life, William Saroyan joked with a friend visiting him in the hospital.  "I always knew that people don't live forever," the famous writer said, "but somehow in my case, I thought there would be an exception made."  Like Saroyan, we all have trouble imagining our own deaths.  However as we grow older, that reality looms larger and larger.

I suppose I didn't really give dying much serious thought until a life-threatening illness visited me a few years ago.  Then my life came into perspective, and time was of the essence.  Shortcomings were magnified, mistakes easier to admit, forgiveness easier to ask, estrangements mended, things undone and unsaid acted upon.

Although the crisis passed, I was changed more than a little by my brush with death.  Time has become more precious, relationships more important, and God's manifold gifts and grace more appreciated.  And a magnificent piece of Scripture more meaningful than ever before.  It comes from Paul's letter to the Romans, the incomparable eighth chapter, which concludes with the question: "What can separate us from the love of Christ?"  The apostle's answer: Nothing. Not tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril or the sword. And certainly not death.

Once we have that assurance in our hearts, once we know and believe and trust the One Who died for us, the length of our life becomes far less important than its legacy, its duration far less significant than its contribution.

-- Fred Bauer