Wednesday, June 30, 2021


A verse in 2 Corinthians 3 talks about how God works to help us to grow spiritually. “All of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit” (v. 18).

Commitment to Christian discipleship in the context of a small group is one way we can spend quality time with Jesus. When we do, we are changed.

These are some of the primary ways we can know God: 1) The revelation of His character through the Bible; 2) The incarnation of His love in the person of Jesus Christ; 3) The experience of His presence through prayer; 4) The power of His presence in the Holy Spirit; 5) The fellowship of His body – the church; 6) The mystery and the joy experienced through worship; and 7) Natural revelation, the witness of the creation to the Creator.

Meeting together with other Christians for prayer and Bible study places us close to God. The passage in 2 Corinthians suggests that spending time in the presence of God is a key element to spiritual transformation. What is spiritual growth if it is not being transformed into the image of the Lord? 

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


Tuesday, June 29, 2021


There is a little phrase repeated 436 times in the King James Version of the Bible that I’ve come to love. It might seem like nothing more than a segue, but I think it’s one of the most hopeful statements in all of Scripture.

“And it came to pass.”

If you can’t seem to let go of an if only regret, remember, it’s not here to stay. It will come to pass! And if you’re still holding out hope for a what if dream, hang in there, it will come to pass!

In his biography, “God in My Corner,” the two-time world heavy-weight champion George Foreman tells a story about an elderly woman who was asked her favorite Scripture verse. There are lots of amazing choices… But she didn’t go with “all things work together for good” or “I can do all things through Christ.” Her favorite verse? “And it came to pass.” And she explained why: “I know that whenever a trial comes, it doesn’t come to stay; it comes… to pass.”

Now that’s good theology right there! And, of course, you can flip the coin. “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion.” In other words, He’ll bring it to pass! Either way, God always finishes what He starts. 

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


Monday, June 28, 2021


"[Jesus Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in Him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through Him and for Him. [Christ] Himself is before all things, and in Him all things hold together."  (Colossians 1:15-17 NRSV)

Come, let us dwell in God’s shelter.
Let us dwell in God’s work of art.
Come, because the Earth is the Lord’s,
And God’s Earth is our temporary home.
We live in God’s World; we are not alone.
We share this life with the heavens and the earth,
With the waters and the land,
With trees and grasses,
With fish, birds, and animals,
With minerals and creatures of every form,
And with all our brothers and sisters.
God is good and everything God makes is good.
God is love and everything God makes is love’s fruit.
Let us worship God -- Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer.

-- Adapted from Tatiana Valdez 


Friday, June 25, 2021


“Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 4:6-7 NRSV)

Tragedies bring various responses. God does not seem to deal with them or the people affected by them in a predictable manner.  For some, there seems to be a gift of peace that prevents a total collapse. For others, that peace does not surface for months or even years. Whatever the reaction, those who experience peace early are no better or worse, no stronger or weaker. The experience of one person should not be demanded for another.  Lack of peace does not mean lack of faith. People in pain do not need sermons on peace. They need love and care and assistance.  Remember, faith in God will produce a peace that will go beyond all understanding. It probably won't be an instant peace, but it will be a real peace. 

-- Stephen Arterburn and Jack Felton in “More Jesus, Less Religion” 


Thursday, June 24, 2021


One of the passages of Scripture that has been very important to me for several years is Jeremiah 29:11, “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” Although those words were directed to the nation of Judah in captivity, they express a principle about God, a principle affirmed elsewhere throughout the Bible: God has a plan for you. Because He has a plan for you, and because no one can thwart that plan, you, too, can have hope and courage. You, too, can trust God. 

-- Jerry Bridges in “Trusting God”


Wednesday, June 23, 2021


“My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.”  (Galatians 2:20-21 NLT)

Trying to get right with God by keeping a bunch of religious rules is a formula for frustration and failure. First problem, whose rules? Such requirements vary from religion to religion, person to person, and generation to generation. What if you’re working from the wrong list? Second problem, how do we define what it mean to “keep” those rules? Do we have to follow them perfectly? Or are we allowed a reasonable number of mistakes and missteps? And what is considered “reasonable”? The gospel of Christ eliminates all this confusion by stating categorically that no one but Christ is good enough. Only through faith in Him, only by relying on His efforts on our behalf, do we qualify for heaven.

Father, we are not made right with You by human efforts, and we do not stay right with You by works. Remaining “in Your good graces” means counting on Christ alone to live in us. Amen. 

– Max Lucado in “Life Lessons: Galatians – Free in Christ”


Tuesday, June 22, 2021


As I feverishly pushed the lawn mower around our yard, I wondered if I'd finish before dinner.  Mikey, our 6-year-old, walked up and, without even asking, stepped in front of me and placed his hands on the mower handle.  Knowing that he wanted to help me, I quit pushing.

The mower quickly slowed to a stop.  Chuckling inwardly at his struggles, I resisted the urge to say, "Get out of here, kid.  You're in my way," and said instead, "Here, Son.  I'll help you."  As I resumed pushing, I bowed my back, leaned forward, and walked spread-legged to avoid colliding with Mikey.  The grass cutting continued, but more slowly and less efficiently than before, because Mikey was "helping" me.

Suddenly, tears came to my eyes as it hit me: This is the way my heavenly Father allows me to "help" Him build His kingdom!  I pictured my heavenly Father at work seeking, saving, and transforming the lost, and there I was with my weak hands "helping".  My Father could do the work by Himself, but He doesn't.  He chooses to stoop graciously to allow me to co-labor with Him.  Why?  For my sake, because He wants me to have the privilege of ministering with Him. 

-- Rusty Stephens


Monday, June 21, 2021


"Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy."  (Leviticus 19:2b)

Holiness is a dull word these days, conjuring up images of fusty, finger-wagging prigs, who are good in the worst sense of the word, men and women with sullen, morose faces, full of rectitude and rigid duty, "on hold for the next life," as a Washington Post writer once put it.

True holiness, however, is anything but dull.  It is startling and arresting.  It's more than being decent, good, ethical, and upright.  It has that aspect the Bible calls, "the beauty of holiness."  It is what Paul has in mind when he calls on us to "adorn the gospel" (Titus 2:10).

Likewise, Peter writes, "Live such good lives among unbelievers that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us" (1 Peter 2:12).  The word, here twice-translated "good," means "something beautiful to see."

This is the picture of holiness James draws for us, a portrayal that fascinates us and awakens us to the hope that we can be more than we ever hoped to be; that we too can live lives of uncommon beauty and grace.  It can happen as we humbly receive it.  "The LORD…will beautify the humble," Israel's poet assures us (Psalm 149:4).

This is also the picture of holiness that can fascinate our unbelieving friends and awaken in them the hope that there may, after all, be something more. 

-- David Roper in “Growing Slowly Wise” 


Friday, June 18, 2021


“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”  (John 1:12-13 NKJV)

Incredible as it may seem, God wants our companionship. He wants to have us close to Him. He wants to be a father to us, to shield us, to protect us, to counsel us, and to guide us on our journey through life.

When we become Christians we can say “Our Father,” for those who receive Christ have the right to become children of God. So then, we can look to God as our Father. We are to put our trust in Him and come to know Him in the close, intimate companionship of father and child. We can have a personal sense of His love for us and His interest in us, for He is concerned about us as a father is concerned for his children. 

-- Billy Graham in “Who’s in Charge of a World that Suffers?”


Thursday, June 17, 2021


Men, it is past time that our families knew their place in our lives. It is time to take action, even extreme action if necessary. Our families don't want our wealth, our gifts, our prestige, or our applause. They want US. They want to know that, other than God, they are the most important thing in our lives.

-- Ronnie W. Floyd in “The Meaning of a Man” 


Wednesday, June 16, 2021


Spiritually connected fathers can play a significant role in their children's lives. One of the benefits of spirituality is learning to handle difficult situations by developing faith and hope in the midst of adversity. That does not mean that there is no suffering, no setbacks, and no disappointments. It means that despite our human shortcomings, and despite the challenges and frustrations of life, there is some good that can come out of difficult situations, sorrow and pain.

Fathers can teach their children about the faith, and their hope for the future. Fathers can be supportive role models, and can demonstrate healthy coping skills when faced with adversity, disappointment, and frustrations.

-- Dr. Michael Obsatz in “UMMen Magazine”, Winter 2000 


Tuesday, June 15, 2021


"But He gives us more grace. This is why it says: ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’”  (James 4:6 BSB)

In his Guildhall Address in London on June 12, 1945 Dwight David Eisenhower remarked, "Humility must always be the portion of any man who receives acclaim earned in the blood of his followers and sacrifices of his friends." I think the same could be said of the believer who receives eternal life earned in the blood of his Leader and the sacrifice of his Friend... Jesus Christ. In both cases, the recipient is humbled in the recognition that he did not earn it for himself. 

-- Rev. David T. Wilkinson


Monday, June 14, 2021


Determination is a hallmark of godly character.  God doesn't want His people to be hopeless and discouraged -- rather He expects them to be faithful and persistent.  "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline" (2 Timothy 1:7).  However, neither does God want His people to be stubborn.  Let's be careful not to confuse stubbornness with determination.  Whereas stubbornness is like a mule kicking and balking at every turn, determination is like a racehorse striving to cross the finish line victoriously.  According to Scripture, a stubborn heart is disobedient (Romans 10:21), foolish (Ephesians 4:18) and destined to be destroyed (Proverbs 29:1). 

-- Dr. Norm Wakefield & Jody Brolsma in “Men Are from Israel, Women Are from Moab” 


Friday, June 11, 2021


 “Make them holy by Your truth; teach them Your Word, which is truth.”  (John 17:17 NLT)

God’s truths are not bricks to throw at people, nor are they laws to be rewritten, nor are they trash to put out at the curb.

God’s truths are bread to feed the hungry, directions to guide the lost, power to help the addicted, strength to support the weak, hope to transform the sinner, eternal life to comfort the dying. 

– Author Unknown


Thursday, June 10, 2021


“Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the Word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the Perfect Law that gives freedom, and continues in it -- not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it -- they will be blessed in what they do.”  (James 1:22–25 NIV)

Experience is the matrix in which change is forged.  Usually the realization that we have a need to change begins with an experience.  The experiences we are especially interested in here are those that are symptoms of deeper needs; things that reveal wrong attitudes, fears, destructive behaviors, and so on.

The appropriate response to an insight gained through experience is to turn to the Scriptures ... God’s Word illuminates.  It penetrates our clouds of self-deception and shows things as they really are.  It takes courage to step into the light in this way.  To be confronted with the truth about ourselves can be like getting caught with no clothes on.  But we must see things as they are before we can do what needs to be done.

[To say yes to what the Scriptures say about us] takes a certain attitude on our part.  It is humility ... Prayer and worship are the language of humility. 

-- Jim Peterson in “Lifestyle Discipleship”


Wednesday, June 9, 2021


Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to follow Me [as My disciple], he must deny himself [set aside selfish interests], and take up his cross [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me].”  (Matthew 16:24 AMP)

Abraham Joshua Heschel once said, “Self-respect is the root of discipline: The sense of dignity grows with the ability to say ‘no’ to oneself.”

What do these two quotes say to us today – to a culture where anything goes, where I am encouraged to say ‘yes’ to my desires, where so many are conforming to the direction of society, rather than to Christ? So much is upside down in this world today. We need to say ‘yes’ to Christ and ‘no’ to oneself. 

The Apostle Paul put it this way, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is -- His good, pleasing and perfect will.”  (Romans 12:2 NIV)

-- Rev. David T. Wilkinson


Tuesday, June 8, 2021


The opening words of Isaiah 61 promise that God will bring beauty into broken lives.  He will give beauty in exchange for ashes. God will do this, the prophet tells us, that these very people might be called trees of righteousness, "a planting of the Lord" for His glory.

Those are comforting words for those pressed with limitations, those who know a daily struggle with profound personal obstacles.  I know people like this.  Broken men and women who have been given beauty for ashes; radiant believers who heighten God's reputation in a cynical world.

At a recent concert I watched members of a deaf choir stand up front to "sign" as the worship choir sang.  The faces of those who were signing the words beamed with joy.  You could tell they really believed the words of those hymns, even though they couldn't hear the sounds or the phrasing or the music. I tried to be cool and not cry.  But I just couldn't stop the flow of tears.  I was deeply moved.

Sometime later I felt the same surge of emotion when I listened to the testimony of a man named David Ring.  David is severely disabled with cerebral palsy and you have to listen intently to catch what he's saying.  But in a thick, guttural voice, he spoke of the priority of giving thanks.  His thoughts were threaded with Scripture, saturated with peace and joy. Once again, my tears fell freely.  Nor did I feel foolish or ashamed for crying.

Later on, however, I asked myself why I'd been so moved.  I genuinely examined my motive.  Was it pity?  Was I simply feeling sorry for those people because of their disabilities? No, I don't think so.  I think I was responding to Isaiah's theme… it was the beauty.  It was the lovely character, a right response, a solid witness, all born out of brokenness.  Out of what could have been bitter ashes, God gave these people something more.  They had become the planting of the Lord "for His splendor."

So the next time you find yourself deeply moved by the joyful perseverance of a Christian with a disability, thank the Lord for the grace that brings beauty out of ashes.

-- Joni Earkeckson Tada in “Glorious Intruder”


Monday, June 7, 2021


“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails… And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”  (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a,13 NIV)

We never know how far our life will extend.  Do you believe this remarkable truth?

Heaven will hold breathtaking surprises for many who think what they do is unimportant.  Amid the hallelujahs and hugs many will be honored for simple, yet life-changing acts of redemption.  And the greatest thrill will be when our Lord Jesus looks into seemingly insignificant individuals' eyes and says, "Well done.  I appreciate the redeeming love you've shown to __________ and __________ and __________."

...The greatest investments ever made are investments in people, because people go to heaven. And our experience has been that we cannot begin to grasp the way our loving redemptive actions will affect people for eternity. 

-- Dr. Norm Wakefield & Jody Brolsma in “Men Are from Israel, Women Are from Moab”


Friday, June 4, 2021


"O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our Maker." (Psalm 95:6)

Worship involves a two-directional view. Looking upward we see God in all His majesty, power, glory, and sovereignty as well as His mercy, goodness, and grace. Looking at ourselves we recognize our dependence upon God and our sinfulness before Him. We see God as the sovereign Creator, worthy to be worshipped, served, and obeyed, and we see ourselves as mere creatures, unworthy sinners who have failed to worship, serve, and obey Him as we should. 

-- Jerry Bridges in “Trusting God”


Thursday, June 3, 2021


“When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, He had compassion on them and healed their sick.”  (Matthew 14:14)

When Jesus looked out at the crowds interrupting His day off, He saw people who longed for God. People who had rowed three miles across the lake or walked seven miles to reach Him. People who’d made a real effort to spend their time with Him.

To Jesus, the gathered people were “like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36). Jesus was tired, but the people in front Him were more important than His own plans and need of rest. Jesus saw people as God saw them. How do you see people? Especially those who interrupt your “me time” or who cause you irritation or frustration on busy days?

Ask God to help you see people through His eyes. Look at people from His point of view, as sheep who need the Shepherd. Then be willing to give your time and energy to help them find Him. Move your focus off yourself and onto the needs of others… for Jesus’ sake! 

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


Wednesday, June 2, 2021


“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”  (Ephesians 6:10-11 NRSV)

Christians shouldn’t rely on their own strength but must tap into the mighty power of the Lord. Human strength is impotent in opposing our supernatural enemy, the devil. With the omnipotent God as our power source, even a little strength is sufficient for victory. “Remember that it is your God who gives you power.” (Deuteronomy 8:18 NLT)

God wants you to be able to withstand and stand against the devil’s onslaught. To withstand means to resist or oppose an evil influence. To stand is to take a prolonged stance, to continue to hold up under pressure. Withstand for the moment; stand for a lifetime. 

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