Tuesday, August 31, 2021


“Jesus said to the people who believed in Him, ‘You are truly My disciples if you remain faithful to My teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’”  (John 8:31-32 NLT)

Soren Kierkegaard once said that reading the Bible is like coming to a street corner and waiting for the traffic to pass before crossing the street.  And while you are waiting, you overhear the conversation of the two women in front of you.  They are oblivious to your presence, but as they talk, you realize that the conversation is about you.  And what they say reveals to you things that you never suspected about yourself.

When I read the Bible in the power of the Holy Spirit, it's just like that.  Though it was not written to me, I sense that it was written for me.  I don't hear just what the Bible says to people in places long ago and far away.  Rather, I feel as though I am overhearing messages that were meant just for me.  In my devotional reading of the Scripture, as distinct from my times of study, I feel my soul being opened up to glimpses of Truth that are incredibly personal. 

-- Tony Campolo in “Following Jesus Without Embarrassing God”


Monday, August 30, 2021


“It shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them.”  (Deuteronomy 17:19 KJV)

The key word here is keep, so let me drill down on it. The Jewish rabbis said that every word of Scripture has seventy faces and six hundred thousand meanings. This is one of those kaleidoscopic words in Hebrew.

The word keep means keepsake, as in a treasured possession. It means to guard something, as if your life depended on it. It means to keep track of, like a courtroom stenographer. It means to watch over, like an air traffic controller. It means to keep watch, like a night watchman. It means to preserve, like a taxidermist. It means to examine, like a forensic scientist. It means to cross-examine, like a prosecuting attorney. It means to put in a vault, like a banker. It means to put a contract on something, like a real-estate agent. It means to decipher secrets, like World War II code talkers.

To keep the Word of God in our hearts, to keep our minds set on the Spirit, requires that kind of due diligence. Few things are as exhausting as intentionality, but the payoff is always worth the price. You pay the price by getting into God’s Word daily. Then the Holy Spirit… brings to memory what we need to know, when we need to know it. 

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


Friday, August 27, 2021


“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”  (2 Timothy 3:16 NRSV)

In most parts of the Bible, everything is implicitly or explicitly introduced with "Thus says the Lord".  It is... not merely a sacred book but a book so remorselessly and continuously sacred that it does not invite -- it excludes or repels -- the merely aesthetic approach.  You can read it as literature only by a tour de force...  It demands incessantly to be taken on its own terms: it will not continue to give literary delight very long, except to those who go to it for something quite different. 

-- C. S. Lewis (1898-1963) in “They Asked for a Paper” 


Thursday, August 26, 2021


“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”   (Hebrews 11:1)

Faith is the way we begin the life in Christ; faith is also the way it is maintained; and faith is what will bring us at last in triumph through the gates of glory into the very presence of the Lord Himself.

-- Ray C. Stedman


Wednesday, August 25, 2021


“Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but now even more in my absence, continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who works in you to will and to act on behalf of His good purpose.”   (Philippians 2:12-13)

Sometimes, when God is at work in us, it can feel like we are in the dark. It can involve some heat. It can be painful. Let's look closely at how God works in us and what that process involves... It will always involve a testing of your faith, or what Dr. Henry Blackaby [in “Experiencing God”] refers to as a crisis of belief.

What do you know to be true about God? Many things will come to mind. You know He is love. You know He is faithful. You know He cares about you and that He is always aware of what you are going through.

The crisis for us occurs when we must act on the basis of what we believe. Do we believe it enough to act upon that belief when we are in the dark? When it hurts? When we do not feel like responding?

-- From Christianity Online 


Tuesday, August 24, 2021


“Then you will call on Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord.  (Jeremiah 29:12-14a NIV)

Come near to the holy men and women of the past and you will soon feel the heat of their desire after God.  They mourned for Him, they prayed and wrestled and sought for Him day and night, in season and out, and when they had found Him the finding was all the sweeter for the long seeking. 

-- A. W. Tozer in “The Pursuit of God” 


Monday, August 23, 2021


“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes… In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” (Ephesians 6:10,11,16).

Faith is not a refuge from reality. It is a demand that we face reality, with all its difficulties, opportunities, and implications. The true subject matter of religion is not our own little souls, but the Eternal God and His whole mysterious purpose, and our solemn responsibility to Him. 

-- Evelyn Underhill (1875-1941) in “The School of Charity”


Friday, August 20, 2021


What do a disabled woman and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches have in common?  God used them both to reach thousands of kids.  In the summer of 1990, Bea Salazar didn't consider her life a work of art.  She was unemployed with five kids, no money, and little hope.  Then she found a crying boy digging for food in a dumpster.  She took the boy home and made him a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Good news about the peanut-butter lady spread through the neighborhood, and more kids showed up on her doorstep.  Today, she influences thousands of kids through her non-profit organization, Bea’s Kids (www.beaskids.org), which offers tutoring, clothes, medical assistance, food, and counseling.  Bea Salazar has received numerous awards for her good deeds.  When Oprah gave Bea the Use Your Life Award, Bea said, "It gives me a purpose to live, it gives me life…There is no greater joy."

There is no greater joy than doing good works for others in the name of the Lord.  Won't you give the gift that keeps on giving, the gift of yourself, for God's honor and glory? 

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


Thursday, August 19, 2021


“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”  (Isaiah 41:10,13 NIV)

The story of the Bible isn't primarily about the desire of people to be with God; it's the desire of God to be with people. 

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



Wednesday, August 18, 2021


[From the cross Jesus prayed,] “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son may glorify You. For You granted Him authority over all people, so that He may give eternal life to all those You have given Him. Now this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only TRUE God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.”  (John 17:1b-3)

One who often thinks of God, will have a larger mind than the one who simply plods around this narrow globe… The most excellent study for expanding the soul, is the science of Christ, and Him crucified, and the knowledge of the Godhead in the glorious Trinity.  Nothing will so enlarge the intellect, nothing so magnify one’s whole soul, as a devout, earnest, continued investigation of the great subject of the Deity. 

-- Adapted from Charles H. Spurgeon 


Tuesday, August 17, 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)

A God not interested in taking risks would never have created Adam in the first place. If God risked everything in the person of Jesus Christ for the sake of our salvation, doesn't it seem likely that this same God might expect more than self-seeking, self-motivated, safety-conscious behavior from those who have been so wondrously saved? 

-- Leonard Sweet in “Homiletics” magazine


Monday, August 16, 2021


“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,…” (Ephesians 6:13-14)

When Paul compares the armor of God with military gear, each piece represents a part of God’s strength that He extends to us when we become His children. (John 1:12) The breastplate of righteousness refers to the righteousness purchased for us by Jesus at the cross (2 Corinthians 5:21). At salvation, a “breastplate” is issued to each repentant sinner. It is specially designed by God to protect our heart and soul from evil and deception. Our own righteous acts are no match for Satan’s attacks (Isaiah 64:6). The breastplate of righteousness has Christ’s name stamped on it, as though He said, “Your righteousness isn’t sufficient to protect you. Wear mine.”

We are instructed to “put on” this armor, which implies that we do not automatically wear it all the time. Putting on the armor of God requires a decision on our part. To put on the breastplate of righteousness, we must first have the belt of truth firmly in place. Without truth, our righteousness will be based upon our own attempts to impress God. This leads to legalism or self-condemnation (Romans 8:1). We choose instead to acknowledge that, apart from Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5). We see ourselves as “in Christ” and that, regardless of our failures, His righteousness has been credited to our account. 

-- From gotquestions.org


Friday, August 13, 2021


“You were bought with a price [you were actually purchased with the precious blood of Jesus and made His own]. So then, honor and glorify God with your body."  (1 Corinthians 6:20 Amplified Bible)

It frequently happens that the value of a thing lies in the fact that someone has possessed it. A very ordinary thing acquires a new value, if it has been possessed by some famous person. In any museum we will find quite ordinary things -- clothes, a walking-stick, a pen, pieces of furniture -- which are only of value because they were possessed and used by some great person. It is the ownership which gives them worth. It is so with the Christian. The Christian may be a very ordinary person, but he acquires a new value and dignity and greatness because he belongs to God. The greatness of the Christian lies in the fact that he is God's. 

-- William Barclay (1907-1978) in “The Letters of James and Peter”

Thursday, August 12, 2021


[Jesus said,] "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You.  May they also be in Us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me."  (John 17:20,21 NIV)

Prayer works when we have unity in the Body of Christ. And when we have unity, we are ready to meet whatever trial may come. But if we are at odds with others in the Body, or simply too busy to keep in contact, we cannot expect God to answer our prayers. Even less can we expect Him to use us in some great way for His Kingdom.

One key to the success of the church at its first century birth was its unity. No, it wasn't easy. There were serious disagreements over serious matters. But somehow, God brought these people from all different backgrounds, with different angles on their newfound faith, together. And unity came when they prayed.

And when they prayed, God answered.  

-- Eric Reed in “Leadership Journal”


Wednesday, August 11, 2021


God always knows just what each person needs.

He had Abraham take a walk, Elijah take a nap, Joshua take a lap, and Adam take the rap.

He gave Moses a forty-year time out, He gave David a harp and a dance, and He gave Paul a pen and a scroll.

He wrestled with Jacob, argued with Job, whispered to Elijah, warned Cain, and comforted Hagar.

He gave Aaron an altar, Miriam a song, Gideon a fleece, Peter a name, and Elisha a mantle.

Jesus was stern with the rich young ruler, tender with the woman caught in adultery, patient with the disciples, blistering with the scribes, gentle with the children, and gracious with the thief on the cross.

God never grows two people the same way.  God is a hand-crafter, not a mass-producer.

– John Ortberg in “The Me I Want To Be” 


Tuesday, August 10, 2021


“For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”  (Romans 1:21)

What use is it to us to hear it said of a man that he has thrown off the yoke, that he does not believe there is a God to watch over his actions, that he reckons himself the sole master of his behavior, and that he does not intend to give an account of it to anyone but himself?  Does he think that in that way he will have straightway persuaded us to have complete confidence in him, to look to him for consolation, for advice, and for help, in the vicissitudes of life?  Do such men think that they have delighted us by telling us that they hold our souls to be nothing but a little wind and smoke -- and by saying it in conceited and complacent tones?  Is that a thing to say blithely?  Is it not rather a thing to say sadly -- as if it were the saddest thing in the world? 

-- Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) in “Pensee”


Monday, August 9, 2021


“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed Him, ‘If you continue in My word, you are truly My disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’”  (John 8:31-32)

God tells us the truth about ultimate reality because He knows that we operate about as well without that truth as a car does on sand. (No wonder Jesus uses the expression "I tell you the truth" a few dozen times.) Seen in this light, the fact that God tells us the truth about Himself and everything else in the universe is one of the many ways in which He shows us His love.

Truth is the spiritual, emotional, and intellectual air that we need to breathe. When we act or speak against God's truth, we're only hurting ourselves.

-- Matt Donnelly, Christianity Online


Friday, August 6, 2021


When one sees and can honestly face the fact, that his world is really centered in something besides God, in one's self in fact, I think he faces the most profound crossroads in his life (whether he is a layman or a Bishop). Because this is to recognize that one has separated himself from God by taking God's place in the center of his own little world.

What does a person do? The answer is paradoxically the simplest and yet the most difficult thing I have ever done. In our age of complexity we want a complex answer, but Christ gives us instead a terribly difficult one. I think there are basically two things involved in coming to God at the center of one's life: 1) To tell God that we do not love Him most, and confess specifically what it is that we can not give up to Him. 2) To ask God in the personality of Jesus Christ to come into our conscious lives through His Spirit and show us how to live our lives for Him and His purposes… one day at a time.

-- Keith Miller in “The Taste of New Wine”


Thursday, August 5, 2021


Jesus said to Nicodemus, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish but may have eternal life… And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil.”  (John 3:16,19 NRSV)

Over and over Jesus would do the same thing and tell the same story: He would love Nicodemus, so caught up in false religion, but would hate the false religion; He would love the woman caught in adultery but condemn the adultery; He would love Zacchaeus, so obsessed by his possessions, but hate his materialism.  He would love the sinner but hate the sin.

-- Max Lucado


Wednesday, August 4, 2021


Jesus said to His disciples, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”  (Matthew 26:41 NIV)

We are too Christian really to enjoy sinning, and too fond of sinning really to enjoy Christianity.  Most of us know perfectly well what we ought to do; our trouble is that we do not want to do it.

-- Peter Marshall 


Tuesday, August 3, 2021


“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 3:12-14 NIV)

The 1981 movie Chariots of Fire portrays the true story of Eric Liddell, a man who competed for Great Britain in the 1924 Olympics before becoming a missionary. One memorable scene that appeared to be Hollywood fiction, actually happened. A year before the Olympic showdown, Liddell ran in a meet between England, Ireland, and Scotland. In the 440-yard event, moments after the gun sounded, Liddell tangled feet with J.J. Gillies of England and tumbled to the track. Dazed, Liddell sat there, not knowing whether he could get up, when the official screamed, "Get up and run!"   He jumped to his feet and pursued the pack, now a full twenty yards ahead of him. With forty yards to go, he pulled into third place, then second. Right at the tape he passed Gillies, stuck his chest out, won the race, collapsing in total exhaustion.

The next day The Scotsman newspaper reported, "The circumstances in which Liddell won the race made it a performance bordering on the miraculous." Some described it as "the greatest track performance they had ever seen."

Some of you have been knocked down by foolish decisions, by a person, or even Satan himself. When we're down on the track, we're ashamed and depressed. The only real shame is to stay down. God's word compels you, "Get up and run!" Forget what lies behind and run for the prize God has waiting for you. 

-- Craig Brian Larson in “Leadership Weekly” 


Monday, August 2, 2021


“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  (Matthew 6:19-21)

I firmly believe that our lives are God's gift to us. What we do with our lives is our gift to God. My treasure isn't the gold medal, it's how I share this experience with others. What I bring back to them that can help them with their lives...

Through my faith, I've learned that my identity cannot be caught up with winning a gold medal. The fame of being an Olympic medalist wears off. Nothing else in this world will last. That's why you have to have your identity in Christ. 

-- Sheila Taormina, 1996 gold medal Olympic swimmer, 2000 & 2004 Olympic triathlete, 2008 Olympic modern pentathlete, the first woman to qualify for the Olympics in three different sports.