|12/31/2021||Luke 8:40 “So it was, when Jesus returned, that the multitude welcomed Him, for they were all waiting for Him.”|
Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus was met with mobs and meals (Lord, tell Mary to help me!), palm branches and parades, accusations and accolades, pointing fingers and perfume. His presence prompted a response.
Even today, Jesus demands a decision….and action. What we choose to do with Jesus and His cross is the primary and most pressing decision any person ever makes.
Instead of His death ringing with finality, it trumpeted a new beginning for all of us. His anguished cry, “It is finished,” actually means “paid in full.” He wiped away the enormous, insurmountable debt – the penalty for our sins – completely. How can we properly express our gratitude and devotion?
At midnight tonight, many will celebrate with confetti and countdowns, horns and hats, fireworks and food, remembrances and resolutions…We will usher in the new year with exhilaration and anticipation of good things to come…Plan how you will meet Jesus in 2022…Wait and watch for Him…Welcome Him with worship and adoration…Greet Him with gratitude and great joy…Truly honor Jesus in the coming year with whatever is the one thing that you can begin to do right now…God is ready…How will you usher Him in???
|12/30/2021||John 20:21 “So Jesus said to them again, Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”|
Have you committed to any New Year’s resolutions? Have you vowed to break a habit or initiate a healthy one? Our natural inclination is to get stuck in Neutral.
In our overcrowded lives, we assume that someone else will do what God actually is calling us to do. Someone else will witness to a neighbor or volunteer at a shelter or pray with a co-worker.
The Bystander Effect – a social psychological phenomenon – indicates that individuals fail to offer help when other people are present. The greater the number of bystanders, the less likely any of them will help. Everyone waits for someone else to come to the aid of the victim.
For someone in your life right now, you are God’s Plan A…Most likely, He is prompting you to do something you have not done before, to stretch beyond what is comfortable…Jesus is counting on you to listen to His voice, to obey His prompting, and to reach out to meet the need…He created you for this moment, this good work that He ordained, to be the answer to someone’s prayer…Ask God to reveal your 2022 mission…All around us, people need a Savior…YOU are Plan A for at least one of them…Resolve to intentionally serve Jesus and others in the new year!!!
|12/29/2021||John 10:28 “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.”|
How comforting to know that God holds us securely in His hand, cradling us with great care and compassion. If you are exhausted at the end of a very difficult year, be assured of several things.
Every detail of 2021 was filtered through the loving fingers of our Father. Nothing and no one can tear you away from Him. He is not shocked or alarmed by the drama or tragedy in your life.
Whatever you perceive as your greatest weakness, whatever is lacking in you, in the place that you feel the most ugly and the least lovable…you are His. Now and forever. He will not disown or throw you away. You are precious in His sight.
He cannot wait to swoop you up and pull you in close. Zephaniah 3:17 says that He delights in you as He sings with joy. Imagine His lips on your forehead as He hums a lullaby. You belong to Him.
Run to Him as fast as your tired legs can carry you…Throw out your arms in complete trust…He will swing you up…He will pull you close…He will call you His own…He won’t give you up…He won’t give up on you…You are accepted in the Beloved (Ephesians 1:6)…He’s got you…Better things are on the way!!!
|12/28/2021||Luke 5:38 “But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”|
A certain satisfaction exists in closing the chapter on one year and turning a page to the new. Our ever-creating God has extraordinary plans for each of us in the coming 365 days!
Jesus once shared a parable with the religious leaders. He pointed out that no one pours new wine into old wineskins; the wine would spill out, and the wineskins would be ruined. New wine requires new wineskins.
Wineskins were goatskins sewn around the edges to create a watertight vessel. As new wine ferments, it emits gasses that cause the wineskin to expand. An old, rigid wineskin cannot withstand this process and will burst.
Jesus’ new teaching was so different from their old ways of thinking that it required a changed heart and a transformed mind. The new wine of the Holy Spirit could not be contained in their archaic system of laws.
As you anticipate what God has for you in 2022, prepare your heart…Is there anything rigid in me that would prevent the work God will do…Where am I resistant to His touch…Am I pliable to His direction…Open yourself to His possibilities in 2022…Listen for the fresh truths He will whisper…Expand your boundaries for the opportunities He will bring…Get ready…God has great aspirations for you in the coming year!!!
|12/27/2021||Philippians 3:13-14 “forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”|
Here at the end of the year, many of us may look back on a year marred by grief and disappointment.
Jesus understands the longing and necessity for new beginnings. For every person that comes to Him in brokenness, He washes away the old and makes a brand-new creation. He continues to mold us into vessels He can use.
Consider the man lying by the Pool of Bethesda who had been ill for 38 years. When Jesus asked if he wanted to be healed, his despair was evident.
Jesus gave three commands: Rise, take up your bed, and walk! If the man had remained on the mat, it could have tied him to his pessimistic state. He needed to get up and get moving forward.
Perhaps this year’s events have left you hurting and longing for relief…Hope, help, and healing are found in Jesus alone…His mercies flow anew every morning…Leave your burdens at the feet of Jesus…Cast all your cares on Him because He cares for you…Let go of the things that weigh you down and prevent you from running your race well…Forget those things behind and walk into the new year with head held high!!!
|12/26/2021||Psalm 143:5 “I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your works; I muse on the work of Your hands.”|
As the year draws to a close, a wonderful opportunity exists to ponder the events of the past year and prepare for the promise of a new year.
Set aside some time to remember God’s faithfulness. Look for the places where His hand has been at work, where you have experienced breakthrough and abundance.
It is easy to see Him there in the marriages, births, promotions, and celebrations. How amazing to find His love shining brightly – maybe more so – in the disappointments, death, or divorce!
The Israelites insisted on remembering God’s enduring compassion and undying faithfulness. They established memorials to remind themselves and their children. They sang songs, designed dances, and penned poetry. They assembled altars, designated days of celebration, wrote in their record books, and offered oblations to God.
For them and the following generations, those memorials pointed to how the Lord delivered them from enemies, brought them through deep waters, and provided for every need.
Today, revisit the yesterdays of this year…Meditate and wonder at the work of His hands…Find a way to memorialize His goodness…Write it in your journal…Sing a new song of worship…Capture it in a photo….Tell your family and friends this is how God revealed Himself to you this year!!!
|12/25/2021||Luke 2:11 “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”|
Merry Christmas! Today, we celebrate the birth of Jesus – the moment when He put aside His robes of majesty, wrapped Himself in flesh, and came to dwell among us.
On that night, a star shone brightly. May the Light of the World illuminate your heart and your home this holy day. Like the shepherds, may you always follow that Light to bow quietly and reverently in His presence.
Unlike the innkeeper, may you create a sacred space for the Holy One to come and abide with you. May your heart always be open and receptive to Him.
Like the angels that poured light and song across the sheep-dotted fields, may you always be compelled to share the Good News of His coming with all people.
May the Bread of Life satisfy your hunger to fill you with every good thing. May He prove Himself to be more than enough in every situation.
Through that humble stable, the Lamb of God came to be with us…Immanuel brought us forgiveness, hope, restored relationship with the Father, and overcoming power to walk in righteousness…With angels, shepherds, and wise men of old, take time to acknowledge the wonder of a Baby born unto us – sent from our Father with unspeakable love!!!
|12/24/2021||Matthew 1:21 “And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.”|
In the most unlikely of places, in the most mysterious way, God blessed this world with an indescribable Gift. The Savior of all was born in an obscure town, in a crude stable, to an impoverished virgin.
God sent Jesus to destroy the works of the devil (I John 3:8). Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus undid the deeds with which Satan intended to steal, kill, and devastate. For the diseased, His touch brought healing. For the poverty-stricken, He proved more than enough.
For the oppressed, He broke off the shackles to give joyous freedom. At Calvary, He saved people from their sins. He bore our shame so we can go boldly to the Father’s throne to receive mercy and grace for our needs.
For His glorious Gift, our joy cannot be contained…This is not a treasure to be buried beneath holiday traditions or celebrated only one day a year…Because of the wellspring of His life in our inner beings, we pour out His praises…Like the shepherds on that Bethlehem night, we make widely known all that God has done for us…Like the heavenly host, we bring the good tidings of great joy…The free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ for all people!!!
|12/23/2021||John 1:29 “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”|
Many people have become so familiar with the Christmas story that they overlook the reason why God sent His Son into our world.
Many go to Bethlehem’s manger, peer at the baby, chuck Him under the chin and say, “It’s good to see You, Jesus! We’ll check back at Easter.” Merely recognizing Him does not equate to receiving Him.
Peter tells us that Jesus was ordained, from the foundations of the world, as the Lamb of God. Micah recognized Him as Ruler of Israel, future King of kings and Lord of lords.
The Lamb, born in a stable, grew strong in spirit, was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on Him (Luke 2:40). When John saw Him on the Jordan River bank, he cried, “Behold! The Lamb of God!”
John was baptizing for the remission of sins…Jesus waded into a current of judgment, was lowered into a sea of transgression, and was resurrected from the watery grave…God affirmed from heaven: “This is my beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased.”…More than just the Babe of Bethlehem, He is the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world…Do you recognize Him?…Have you received Him?…Accept this greatest of gifts!!!
|12/22/2021||John 6:51 “I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever”|
In the Hebrew language, Bethlehem means “house of bread.” How fitting that God sent Jesus, the Bread of Life, to become the provision for all humanity there!
Wheatfields abounded in Judea. The threshing floors at Bethlehem provided a place where the wheat was separated from the chaff, the seed was ground into flour, and the flour made into bread.
In the Old Testament, Naomi returned to Bethlehem. Her family had escaped the Judean famine by going to Moab. While there, her husband and sons died, leaving her with no means of support. She heard that God had blessed His people with bread again, so she and her daughter-in-law, Ruth, went back.
While gleaning in Boaz’s fields, Ruth met her kinsman-redeemer. He covered her with his cloak and welcomed her into his family. She came to Bethlehem poor, alone, and outside the promises of God. Boaz made her his bride, brought her into the covenant, and enriched her life in every way.
The world was shaken when the Seed of Heaven fell to the threshing floors of Bethlehem…Our Kinsman Redeemer came to wrap us in His robe of righteousness, call us His bride, and extend His covenant to make us heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus…Through the Bread of Life, we will never hunger again…May the Lord bless you and keep you…May the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you and give you His peace…May you never lose the wonder of the unspeakable love that sent God’s Son from heaven to earth…Allow that Gift to transform your life as you live loved in this blessed season!!!
|12/21/2021||John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…”|
From the beginning of time, God planned and prepared a place for us to receive everything that we need for life now and eternally. He so loved us!
God always knew that He would do this for us. First Peter 1:20 assures us that, before God even laid the foundations of the world, His divine plan included Jesus. This was no afterthought.
Before He said, “Let there be light,” He understood that Adam would succumb to temptation and fall into sin. He knew that we would need a Savior.
Our sin would require a cleansing sacrifice, and the only remedy would be the blood spilled by His precious Son. He spoke all things into existence anyway.
At the right time, He revealed His plan in the sleepy village where the Treasure of Heaven came to earth…God did not send Him because we deserved it…He sent Him because He loved us so…Through a tiny babe born in Bethlehem, God demonstrated how absolutely, unconditionally, limitlessly, and incomprehensibly He loves us…Never doubt the depth of His love…Whatever burdens have buried the beauty of Bethlehem in your life, roll them back to remember God has provided all you need…Never allow these words to fall on deaf ears..For God so loved…you!!!
|12/20/2021||Micah 5:2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.”|
The prophet Micah uttered these words that are planted like a gem in the Old Testament. God had a plan from the beginning of time that would change the world forever.
Mention of “Bethlehem” floods our minds with the familiarity of the Christmas story. From our current vantage point, we know that Bethlehem became holy ground that long-ago night when a baby’s cry rent the air, and God wrapped Himself in flesh to dwell among us.
When Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden, Bethlehem did not exist. But God knew.
When the children of Israel exited Egypt for a land flowing with milk and honey, they had no idea what would happen on a Judean hillside centuries later. But God knew.
When David sat on his throne in Jerusalem, and generations of kings descended from him, they had no understanding of a baby in a manger. But God knew.
When Micah spoke centuries before the blessed event, Bethlehem was a little-known town…But God knew…In an insignificant place on the map, an eternal Ruler would come forth…But God knew…Micah spoke…Seven hundred years later, the Messiah was born!!!
|12/19/2021||2 Corinthians 9:15 “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”|
With Christmas only days away, we are caught up in the holiday scramble! Halls to be decked. Carols to be sung. Presents to be bought. Boxes to be wrapped. Cookies to be baked. The list is long!
Over 2000 years ago, under Bethlehem stars, the greatest Gift ever bestowed was born of a virgin, wrapped in swaddling clothes, and nestled into a manger.
Angels illuminated the sky to announce His birth to humble shepherds tending their flocks in the open fields. A Savior was born! A world shackled in sin and condemned to die welcomed Emmanuel. God came to be with us.
The shepherds hastened to the crude stable where they found the promised Child. And when they discovered Him, they “made widely known” (Luke 2:17) all that they had experienced that glorious night. They could not keep it to themselves!
Be careful not to bury the greatest Gift beneath the twinkle lights and tinsel, the stockings and sleds, the elves and evergreens…Find a silent night to kneel before the Savior – the Babe of Bethlehem who became the Champion of Calvary…Make Him the center of every celebration this holy season!!!
|12/18/2021||James 1:4 “But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing”|
How easy it is to become impatient in the maturing process! We want to hurry things along to the harvest, but growth requires time and patience.
God has a plan for carrying you to completion. He sends the sunshine and pours out the rain. He lifts up and prunes to produce much fruit. He plans to make every barren area abundant. His intention is not to harm, but to prosper.
Do not resent the growth process as some sort of intrusion in your life. Do not try to cut it off prematurely. Allow patience to do its work in you until you fully bloom and produce the fruit that God seeks.
Endure the season of sorrow because joy comes in the morning…Trust through the time of need because the righteous have never been forsaken…His children do not beg for bread…In the middle of the tempest, be assured that God rides on the wings of the storm…In the day of battle, find defense in our Shield and Defender…Even in the fiery furnace, He walks beside us through the flames…Trust Him as you allow patience to perform its refining work…Like those plump, purple grapes, your life will be a perfect thing of beauty in His hands!!!
|12/17/2021||Ecclesiastes 5:2 “Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth; therefore let your words be few.”|
How do we respond to the pruning from our Heavenly Father? Do we submit to His wisdom? Or, are we quick to complain and blame?
James encourages us to be quick to listen, but slow to speak (James 1:19). Do not be discouraged by the pruning process. The Lord disciplines the child that He loves. He corrects the one that He embraces. In the same way that parents discipline their children, He trains us to grow and produce fruit.
James also warns us to be slow to wrath. When the Vinedresser lifts us up and begins the process, our frustration will not hasten the work. James goes on to say that “the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” Our fits of temper will not bring about God’s best in our lives.
Our tongues have the power to speak life and health or poison and death…Do not cancel out the harvest by uttering hasty, rash words…When we undergo the painful pruning, we can rejoice that our Father loves us enough to work with us until we produce the fruit that He desires…We can yield to His tender touch… wait quietly on the Lord!!!
|12/16/2021||James 1:19 “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.”|
When we fail to respond properly to the Word of God, the Vinedresser picks up His tools. He sees us in need of pruning.
Be swift to hear! Jesus said it this way, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Mark 4:9). He was emphasizing the difference between an auditory function and an action. “He who has ears to hear” indicates an auditory function. “…let him hear” indicates a heart function.
When we hear the Word of God and respond from our hearts, it carries impact in our lives. But we can be slow of hearing. When we hear and fully understand, but we debate it…our debate is disobedience.
When Jesus spoke to the people, He said, “…hearing they do not hear…” (Matthew 13:13). They had closed their eyes and stopped up their ears. Their hearts were dulled, their understanding dimmed.
Obedience to His Word brings the blessings of God into our lives…Even though we may not completely comprehend His commands, we can trust Him…Delay and debate bring about His chastening…It begins with a listening ear…When we hear it in His Word, let’s be quick to put it into practice…With our ears and with our hearts, let’s be swift to hear!!!
|12/15/2021||John 10:28 “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.”|
If you are connected to Christ, you are in the hand of God. Whether you are the least productive or the most productive branch, He holds you securely.
No matter what burdens you carry or what blessings you walk in, God has His hand on you. No matter where you come from or where you are going to, God has His hand on you.
You can be in no better place. The same hands that fashioned man from the dust at creation hold you. The same hands that pushed back the Red Sea for Moses are making a way for you. The hands that defended Daniel in the lion’s den are protecting you.
They suffered blisters and splinters and carpenter calluses. They touched the leper. They held the little children. They were stretched out on a cross. They were impaled at Calvary. Those nail-pierced hands still reach out today in invitation: “Come unto me.”
His hands will never push you away nor leave you unattended or undefended…They move mountains of impossibility…They prepare a table before you in the presence of your enemies…Nothing and no one has the power to pluck you out of this safe and loving haven…You are loved, and you are held…You are in His hand!!!
|12/14/2021||Galatians 6:9 “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”|
Every believer lives in one of two states. We are either being lifted up or we are being pruned. Why? Because God wants us to bear much fruit!
Our Vinedresser continually inspects the fruit that we produce. He is looking for love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). When He cannot find evidence of those fruits, He pays special attention to those branches.
God begins with a tender touch to gain our attention – the pastor will speak a word, a song will quicken our heart, or a friend will share a gentle rebuke. If we fail to respond to His tenderness, He will take tougher measures.
He will begin to cut away all of the things that do not bring forth good fruit…He will pull out all the debris that we accumulate until we are forced to put our trust exclusively in Him…We will find that when He is the only One left, He is all that we need…When He lifts us up, He does so with love…When He wields the pruning shears, He does so with great patience…No need to lose heart…We will reap a harvest of much fruit if we continue to trust in Him!!!
|12/13/2021||Matthew 4:4 “But He answered and said, ‘It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”|
After Jesus’ baptism, the Holy Spirit led Him into the wilderness where He fasted for 40 days. At the end of that time, Satan appeared to tempt Him.
Satan waited for the fortieth day when Jesus was hungry and exhausted. Our greatest temptations come when we are emotionally, physically, and spiritually spent.
Satan tempted Him first by opening the door of doubt: “If you are the Son of God….” Sound familiar? “If you are really saved….” “If God really loves you….”
Secondly, Satan tempted Jesus by demanding: “Turn these stones into bread.” He pushes us to accomplish things in our own strength.
Jesus did not argue with him…He did not point out His ability to destroy Satan and his works…He simply declared, “It is written.”…He did something that we can do – even when we are at our weakest…We run to the source that declares us triumphant…Whether we are in a battle for our life, our business, or our family…it is written…When we speak the promises of God, they become the Living Word to bring us victory over the evil one’s intention to defeat and destroy…God has placed him under our feet…It is written!!!
|12/12/2021||1 Peter 2:2-3 “…as newborn babies, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.”|
Before we sit down to eat, we must wash our hands. No filth from the outside should go inside. Once we are clean, we are free to enjoy the tasty dishes.
God desires to feed us with good things, but if we have unclean hands, we cannot receive the blessings that He has stored up for us. Our hands are cleaned by the washing of the water of the Word.
Peter encouraged the New Testament believers to desire the pure milk of the word so that they could grow in their faith. When we bring new babies home from the hospital, we feed them milk for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. That is the only food they can digest.
As new believers, the only food we should desire and digest is the Word of God…It will cleanse and cause us to develop…Expect growing pains…When it reminds us to repent and change, we will be required to make choices…We must decrease so that He might increase…We must deny ourselves to follow Him…As we are washed, we can lift up holy hands without fear or doubt…He will pour good things into those clean hands…Taste and see that the Lord is gracious!!!
|12/11/2021||John 15:3 “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.”|
The Word of God is a cleansing agent in our lives. The water of the Word washes us from our sinful pasts and painful habits to make us clean and complete in Christ.
In Exodus 30, God instructed Moses to build a bronze laver for the Tabernacle. Before the priests could minister at the altar or enter the Holy Place, God required them to wash in the basin.
The laver was created from bronze mirrors, and as the priest washed, he could see his reflection. His image was a reminder that he needed cleansing from God.
When we read the Word of God, we look into a mirror…We see our reflection there…We read it, and – since the Word is alive – it reads us…If a woman looked into a mirror and saw smeared lipstick and smudged mascara, she would make the necessary repairs to be presentable again…We must do the same…We need cleansing…When we open God’s Word and see our flaws reflected there, we must seek forgiveness…With His help, we must make the necessary changes to come into alignment with what He requires…We must act on what we see…Do not glance in the mirror, walk away, and forget what the Word has spoken…Be cleansed by His Word!!!
|12/10/2021||John 15:7 “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.”|
The living water of the Word of God is 100% pure and necessary for spiritual growth (Proverbs 30:5). Any religious source, word, book, doctrine or denomination that does not align with His Word is outside of the will of God and should be denounced.
The Word of God has been tested and approved. The youngest child can find instruction in its pages. Mature believers have learned that they can stand upon it solid and secure.
For its power to impact our lives, we must apply it. We must read it, speak it, and exercise it! Jesus told the disciples that He had applied the Word to their lives and had washed off the contamination of the world.
As we apply the water of His Word to our lives, Jesus washes us clean…He lifts us out of our sinful pasts and painful habits…As the written word takes root in our hearts, we begin to speak its truths out loud…When we speak it over situations, it becomes the living Word that transforms…When our desires are based on the living Word derived from the spoken Word based on the written Word, we can ask what we desire…And it shall be done!!!
|12/9/2021||2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”|
Spiritual growth requires being rooted in the Word of God. His Word proves 100% effective in every situation.
It underpins our doctrine, reprimands our wrong choices, points us to truth, and steers us back when we wander astray. Everything that we need to complete God’s will and His work can be found in its pages.
When we are lost and confused, His Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. His words throw a beam of light on the path so we do not stumble (Psalm 119:105).
When we are surrounded on every side, the Bible tells us that God’s name is a strong tower that we can run to and find a place of protection and reprieve (Proverbs 18:10).
We need not live in fear…God’s Word assures us that He gives a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind (II Timothy 1:7)…The Holy Spirit emboldens us with wisdom and strength…If we lack wisdom, God encourages us to come to Him…He answers our questions without making us feel foolish or guilty (James 1:5)…His Scriptures make us wise and mature in every way, completely prepared to live for Him!!!
|12/8/2021||Romans 5:3-4 “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.”|
Being grafted into the Vine does not guarantee eternal sunshine and storm-free days. On the other side of salvation, we often endure seasons of struggle.
We experience dry deserts and devastating storms. We endure the long winters and silence of delays. Be assured that hard times will bring a harvest!
If our life in Christ will mature, we must be willing to experience growing pains. Struggle is synonymous with growth! In the vineyard, every branch that produces clusters of glowing grapes has suffered pain to mature.
The seed planted in the soil has struggled to break ground. The plant has struggled to dig deep roots, to push out leaves, to blossom and bear fruit. We celebrate the harvest, but pain accompanies production.
By nature, we resist struggle…We prefer pain-free days…We long for the easy route, the results without the cost of growth…But we will not have the strength to sustain growth if we do not work for the outcome…where is our character developed?…The good days do not make us emotionally strong, expand our confidence, or establish our fortitude…Struggle makes us strong…We can glory in tribulations knowing that our perseverance produces much fruit!!!
|12/7/2021||John 15:9 “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.”|
As Jesus spent final, precious moments with His disciples, He spoke of abiding and how their point of contact determined their potential.
Vinedressers can attest that the point of contact – where the branch meets the vine – is where healthy, flourishing life begins. At that juncture, life-giving sap flows through to be delivered to the fruit growing on the branch.
If the branch has a large, unobstructed connection to the vine, the potential is great for a bumper crop – plentiful, luscious grapes. If the connection is poor, the fruit will be withered and sparse.
To abide means to remain, to stay closely connected, to settle in for the long term. Ongoing vital connection with Jesus directly determines the flow of His supernatural power at work in our lives.
In John 15, Jesus uses “abide (remain or dwell)” eleven times. John uses it 40 times in his gospel. To be productive, we must join with Him.
A branch, severed from the vine and lying in the dust, will not produce one leaf, one flower, one grape…Our connection to Jesus must be our singular priority…To remain in Him, we must set apart devoted time with Jesus…We must deepen our relationship by talking and listening to Him…Savor His words…Be attentive to His presence every moment…Abide in Him!!!
|12/6/2021||John 15:2 “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”|
Today’s verse sounds quite ominous to the “branch” that is not bearing fruit. However, when we examine it in the original text, a beautiful picture emerges.
Instead of “take away,” the Greek word “airo” can be translated “lift up.” John the Baptist exclaimed, “Behold! The Lamb of God Who takes away (airo) the sin of the world!” Jesus took away our sins and “lifted” them to the Father. Jesus said, “And I, if I be lifted up (airo) from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.”
In a vineyard, grapevines grow upwards along a trellis, so the clusters of fruit hang freely. If branches grow along the ground, the fruit splits or grows moldy. They are never intended to exist there.
We cannot flourish where we were never intended to live…If we are connected to old behaviors or old ways of thinking, our ability to produce good fruit is severely limited…We cannot grow in the dark…Our tender Vinekeeper will come to “lift up” the branch that has fallen in the dirt…He will “take away” the dead foliage…He will prune it for optimum growth…He will wash it with the water of the Word to make it clean…With gentle hands, He will do everything He can to ensure that we produce much good fruit!!!
|12/5/2021||John 15:8 “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.|
God’s will for each of His children is that we bear fruit – and not just somefruit, but much fruit! God is a productive and producing God, and He desires the same attributes in us.
When do we start? Immediately! Fruit production is possible for every believer. From the moment we are grafted into the True Vine, His potential and power flow through us.
Where do we start? Here! Our mission field exists right where we live. We have great impact in the place where we are known the most.
How do we start? The Holy Spirit produces fruit in us as we submit to the Father. His good fruit grows in us, and we produce works as evidence.
When the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit, they received power to become His witnesses in Judea – that was home. In Samaria – those were their neighbors. And to the uttermost parts of the earth.
Let’s produce good fruit at home – with our spouses and children…Let’s be productive in our witness to our neighbors…In the places where we are employed, let’s work with God-honoring integrity…Those who know us best must know how we love Him most…Start here…Start now…As you are nourished by the Father, may you flourish…Abound in every good work to produce more and more fruit!!!
|12/4/2021||Romans 11:17 “and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree”|
Many people claim a deep affiliation with religion, but they have no relationship with Jesus. Until they are grafted into the True Vine, they face death and the fire of judgment.
To graft a branch into a vine, the vinedresser cuts open the well-rooted, mature vine. In the fresh cut, he places the branch. He then ties the vine and the branch together.
As the vine begins to heal, the sap and nutrients from the root will feed the branch through the wound of the vine. This life-giving flow unites the branch and vine. Eventually, no one will be able to tell that the branch was once separate from the vine.
Before Calvary, we were outside of the covenant of God – a wild olive tree…When Jesus went to the cross, He was wounded for our wrongs, crushed for our evil…The judgment for our sin was placed on Him…He was pierced and broken for us…But when He cried, “It is finished,” His crucifixion pulled us into the covenant…Because we are grafted into Jesus, the spiritual DNA of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob now flows through us…We are His chosen and redeemed, fed by the richness of the True Vine!!!
|12/3/2021||Colossians 2:6-7 “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith.”|
Trees are known by their fruit. Apple trees produce apples; cherry trees produce cherries. We are known by the good fruit that we produce for His kingdom.
Without a root, though, no fruit exists. If we are not vitally connected to the Root of David, we produce nothing of worth. Jesus, the True Vine, stretches from the manger all the way back to Abraham. He connects the covenant of Genesis with the cross of Golgotha. He pulls us into every promise of God.
Before the cross, we were without hope outside of the covenants of God. Because we have been grafted into the True Vine, every promise is now “Yes and Amen” to us in Christ.
Those who refuse to abide in Him, who reject the Root of David, are branches disconnected from the life-giving source. They wither and die, are gathered up, cast away, and burned in the fire.
Those abiding in the Vine live as heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus…We build our lives in the One from Whom all blessings flow…Wrap your life around the Root of David…Abide in Him to be fruitful in every good work, increasing in the knowledge of God, and fully pleasing to Him (Colossians 1:10)…
|12/2/2021||John 15:16 “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit”|
Jesus and His disciples had just celebrated Passover. As they walked towards the Garden of Gethsemane, they passed through a vineyard in the Kidron Valley.
There, among the clusters of grapes, He taught them. “I am the true vine, and My Father is the Vinedresser. You are the branches.” His further instructions extend to us.
He chose us. He appointed us. We are to go and bear fruit. He desires that we grow and produce good things for His kingdom. No matter if we have been a believer for five minutes or 55 years, God shows no favoritism or partiality.
The patient Vinedresser will come to inspect our branches and our baskets. For those of us producing fruit, He will prune us to help us grow even more. For those of us whose branches are bare, He will lift us up to cut away the loose ends in our lives and to help us produce.
He wants growth…If we are breathing, there is room for more of Him…He desires for us to grow more mature, stronger, deeper, wiser, more faithful, and more fruitful…Cultivate opportunities for growth…Everything that is occurring around us – and in us – works to make us that much more fruitful…Leverage it all for Him…Go, grow, and produce!!!
|12/1/2021||John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”|
Jesus knew what was coming as He gazed into the circle of dear, familiar faces glowing in the lamplight. These were the final words He would share before He was betrayed.
What a ragtag group they were – men with callouses on their hands and hearts, cheaters, liars, betrayers, and doubters! Jesus saw what others could not. His heart was tender towards these vagabonds who would undertake His earthly ministry to carry the Gospel to the ends of the earth.
The words that He spoke into their ears that fateful evening are the same ones He whispers to us today: “…apart from Me you can do nothing.” He wanted them to understand that if they chose to go it alone – to work hard to generate results on their own – all of their efforts would be in vain. No matter how well-intentioned, they would produce nothing of enduring worth.
How freeing to realize that it is not up to us…Only He is the Prince of Peace…Only in His presence can we find the fullness of joy…When the enemy rushes in like a flood, only He can raise a standard against him…Outside of Jesus is barrenness and brokenness…With Him, our lives blossom and bloom in the beauty of God!!!
|11/30/2021||Genesis 32:31 “Just as he crossed over Penuel the sun rose on him, and he limped on his hip.”|
As Jacob wrestled with God, the sky began to lighten. God saw that He did not prevail against Jacob, so He touched his hip and threw it out of joint.
Jacob was forever changed. For the rest of his life, he leaned on God. When he escaped with Esau’s stolen birthright, he was proud and pompous. His shoulders were square; his chin was held high. His scheming deception had earned him what he wanted.
But after he wrestled with God, he was humble in heart. He carried himself slowly. With each faltering step, he recognized that his blessing came from God. His limp reminded him of his new name and destiny. He called that place Penuel, face of God.
Have you ever been through a trial so traumatic that you were changed forever?
The person you were before the crisis no longer exists…The new you recognizes that it is good that you were afflicted…Your prayers prevailed…His Word has settled in your bones like never before…You wrestled with God until the sun rose over you…He gave His blessing because you contended through the long night…you are familiar with His face…You know Him in a way that defies explanation…You will never be the same…
|11/29/2021||Isaiah 62:2 “You shall be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD will name.”|
Jacob stubbornly wrestled with God. He would not let go until God gave him what he wanted more than anything.
God blessed him with a new name; He would now be called Israel. Jacob had struggled with God and man, but he had prevailed. His desperation for the blessing won out.
In an instant, he received a new name, a new character, and a new outcome. No longer was he known as Jacob – the heel catcher, deceiver, and trickster. God called him Israel, a Prince with God.
He had lived up to his previous name and fulfilled the expectations of that label. But when His Creator – the One Who formed and ordained – called him by name, he became the man God had designed. When his Maker told him what He saw and called out his true identity, Israel was born.
Many of us wrestle with who we once were…We are exhausted by the expectations and diminished by the doubters around us…Our Creator will struggle with us – just like he wrestled with Jacob – until we are in a position to receive the blessing…In a moment, He will call out the person He designed you to be…He will give you a new name, new character, and new destiny…One touch will change everything!!!
|11/28/2021||Psalm 148:5 “Let them praise the name of the LORD, for He commanded and they were created.”|
From the highest heaven to the lowest valley, all of creation praises our Father. He commanded, they were created, and they commend His efforts.
From above, the psalmist calls for the sun, moon, stars, and clouds to praise Him. From earth below, he calls for a response from the oceans, mountains, and forests. He commands the cattle, sea creatures, and birds to give thanks to their Creator.
At this beautiful time of year, all creation joins to magnify His name. The trees burst forth their riotous robes of color and clap their hands for joy as the wind teases their leaves. The mountains and hills sing in tones of aspen yellow and dancing goldenrod. The geese honk of His greatness as they wing their way south under a high, cloudless, autumn sky. The bountiful harvest extols His goodness in a cornucopia of pumpkins and produce.
All around us, creation reminds us to praise the Lord…The earth and His creatures know that they are created by Him and for Him – to point to and praise His majesty…The psalmist rallies us to praise too…From the tiniest babe in arms to the gray-headed elder, he summons us to exalt our God Who reigns over all…Join in the symphony of praise with all God’s creatures today…Praise the name of the Lord!!!
|11/27/2021||Psalm 150:6 “Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD!”|
Praise the Lord! Psalm 146 through Psalm 150 all begin with that resounding encouragement, and it echoes throughout the verses of these chapters.
These psalms tell us who should praise the Lord – everything that has breath. What should extol His goodness? Every creation above and below. When? Every single day forever and ever. Where? From the sanctuary to the quiet of our beds in the midnight hour. Oh, how these verses tell us why we should give thanksgiving to our most worthy Father!
Psalm 150 explodes in a symphony of praise! Blast the trumpets, crash the cymbals, shake the tambourines! That worship is also exhibited in the stillness where we know that He is God, in the soft strumming of stringed instruments, in the tears of gratitude in the comfortable silence between us. In every way we know how, every single being that has breath should praise His name!
How extraordinary that this continual outpouring of praise would bless God and would produce extraordinary results in us, too…Science has proven that this attitude of gratitude creates pathways of positivity in our brains that benefit our health in every way…These thoughts of thankfulness center our very beings on the One Who continues to gift us with spiritual blessings in a beautiful cycle of generosity…If you have breath, praise the Lord!!!
|11/26/2021||Psalm 149:4 “For the LORD takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation.|
What a beautiful picture the psalmist paints for us in today’s verse! The Lord has blessed and beautified us with salvation. He delights in us.”
When there was no good thing in us – nothing worthy of His attention – He took notice of our desperate state. While we were still sinners, He died for us. He stripped away our own filthy rags and clothed us in His holy robes of righteousness.
This kind of love merits a new song – not just melodies and harmonies droned out mindlessly, but a joyful river of Spirit-song flowing from a heart of inexplicable gratitude. Make those praises privately – and publicly – surrounded by other saints!
This unspeakable gift of salvation causes us to rejoice in our Maker and to be joyful before our King. Such love demands our deepest response of thanksgiving – praising Him with dancing, song, and playing of musical instruments.
Our hearts overflow with gratitude…The daylight hours will not be able to contain our praise…Even lying in our beds, we will keep up a constant flow of praise for the goodness of our God…Praise Him for the gift of His salvation…He has given us beauty for ashes and joy for mourning…Bask in His delight…Let all that is within you bless His holy name!!!
|11/25/2021||Psalm 30:4 “Sing praise to the LORD, you saints of His, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name.”|
The first American Thanksgiving Day occurred in 1621 when the Pilgrims gathered to give thanks for surviving the long winter to reap their first harvest in the strange, new land.
In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln declared an official holiday with the following proclamation: “I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.”
Today, as you mark the Thanksgiving holiday, find a quiet moment to count the many gifts with which God has blessed you. Look back over the last year to recognize the evidence of God’s handiwork. Remember His arms carrying you through the difficult days, His provision and protection.
Thank Him for salvation today and bright hope for eternity…Praise Him for the blessing of living in a nation where peace predominately prevails…Express gratitude for the dear family and friends gathered around your table…May you be aware of His every blessing…May you acknowledge it as a good and perfect gift that has come from the Father of Lights above!!!
|11/24/2021||Psalm 147:1 “Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and praise is beautiful.”|
Again, the psalmist encourages us to approach the Lord with praise and thanksgiving. Throughout this psalm, he lets us know that it is good, pleasant, and beautiful to sing to God!
Other translations tell us that – not only is it good, pleasant, and beautiful – it is appropriate and fitting that we sing praises to Him. When we consider His goodness and glory, it is exactly right that we would burst forth into grateful song.
He created, counted, and called each star by name. He causes the grass to grow and feeds all the creatures of the earth. He keeps peace at the borders of our nation. He launches His promises to earth, and they accomplish His will here.
Closer to home, He puts good food on our tables. He pulls together the outcasts, heals their broken hearts, and bandages their wounds. He makes our cities secure and blesses our children.
In this season, consider the handiwork of the Lord…Take note of all His blessings to you…He delights in giving good gifts to His children…Allow the gratitude in your heart to spill from your lips in joyful worship…Sing a hymn of thanksgiving to God…The Lord strains to hear your upraised voice…your praises are music to His ears!!!
|11/23/2021||Psalm 146:1 “Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul!”|
As Thanksgiving approaches, we are counting our blessings and singing God’s praises. We choose to give thanks every single day.
In our verse, the psalmist speaks forcibly to his soul, “Praise the Lord!” He seems to be waking up his sluggish soul and reminding it to give praise where praise is due.
A popular quote asks the direct question: “What if you woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday?” Ouch! How easy it is for us to get sidetracked by all the distractions that clamor for our attention. How quickly our world-weary souls bow under the weight of everyday pressures.
But the psalmist rings the alarm and shakes our shoulders: “Praise the Lord, O my soul!” And he proceeds to spell out all the reasons that those whose hope is in the Lord should be happy.
God always does what He says that He will do…He executes justice for the oppressed…He gives food to the hungry and freedom to the prisoners…He opens the eyes of the blind and raises up those who are bowed down…He watches over strangers, the orphans, and the widows – those who feel displaced and lonely…Today, rouse your soul…Wake it from its slumber…Remind it of all the reasons that God has given you to be happy…Count your blessings one by one!!!
|11/22/2021||Psalm 145:1 “I will extol You, my God, O King; and I will bless Your name forever and ever.”|
Thanksgiving is just a few days away! More than a one-day-a-year celebration, thanksgiving should be the everyday overflow of our hearts.
The psalmist gives us a great reminder. With sweeping passion, he declares that he will bless the name of the Lord forever and ever. Yet, the next verse draws it a little closer to home. He promises to bless the King every single day. Then, he explains how he might fulfill that vow in the rest of Psalm 145.
He promises to meditate on the splendor of God’s majesty. He will recall how He is gracious, full of compassion, slow to anger, great in mercy, and good to all.
He will declare God’s mighty acts, His wondrous works, and His glorious kingdom. He will remind others of all His blessings. His mouth will speak the praise of the Lord.
He turns his eyes expectantly to the Lord Who satisfies the desire of every living thing. This is our Savior Who draws near and preserves all those who love Him.
For the next week, bless your King every single day…Take time to meditate on all He is and all He has done for you…Testify to others about His overwhelming kindness to you…If we are to praise Him forever and ever, we should begin to practice now!!!
|11/21/2021||Hebrews 6:10 “For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.”|
Not only does God remember you, He remembers the work that you do in His name. He promises a reward for those unseen tasks that no one else recognizes.
Something as small as giving a cup of cold water to a little one in His name does not escape His notice (Mark 9:41). He recognizes these tasks as a labor of love given out of our deep appreciation for all that Jesus has done for us.
Each of us has some ministry to fulfill for the Lord – no matter how small. The key is to do it in His name and for His glory. If we desire credit or recognition for our work, we are not doing it for His glory – but our own.
A labor of love is completed with excellence. We pour our very best efforts into every task we undertake. He is worthy of the finest we have to give.
Our verse today mentions the ministry to the saints in the past and the continued ministry in the present.
A labor of love is an ongoing effort…We must be committed to advancing the Kingdom…Keep up the labor of love for God…Even when no one else notices, He sees you there…He will not forget!!!
|11/20/2021||Psalm 139:1 “O LORD, You have searched me and known me.”|
God forgets no one. Over and over, Scripture declares that God remembered His promises to His people.
God remembered Noah, and He closed the windows of heaven and shut off the fountains of the deep so the floodwaters could recede. God remembered Abraham, and He made him the father of many nations with descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky.
God remembered the Israelites, and He delivered them from slavery in Egypt. God remembered Rebekah, and He took away her reproach by opening her womb to give her a son.
The Psalmist declared that we are continually on God’s mind. If we were to count the sum of His thoughts towards us, they would be more numerous than the grains of sand on the seashore.
He knows every idea that passes through our minds…He is aware of every word we will speak before it rolls off our tongues…He is acquainted with all of our habits…Every one of our days was written down in His book before we lived one…He knows us more intimately than anyone else ever has or ever will…and He still loves us so deeply that we cannot even comprehend the breadth or depth of His commitment to us…Even when you feel forgotten and deserted, He remembers you…God forgets no one!!!
|11/19/2021||1 John 1:7 “and the Blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”|
On the day that the flood of God’s judgment loomed, Noah and his family climbed aboard the ark, and God closed the door. The opportunity for mercy and grace was no more. As the lightning flashed and thunder crashed, Noah was sealed inside. God provided a way of escape from the watery grave outside.
Years later, the children of Israel hunkered in their houses on the first Passover night. The blood of a spotless lamb splashed over their doors turned away the judgment of the death angel as he passed through Egypt to kill the firstborn sons. He did not discriminate as he took the Pharaoh’s and the pauper’s sons. When he saw the blood, the Israelites’ sons were saved.
At Calvary, Jesus became the Ark of our Salvation…He hung between us and judgment…Sin, death, and hell had laid claim to us…Addiction and bondage tightened chains around us…By His stripes, Jesus paid for our healing…His crown of thorns bought our royalty…The Cross set us free…Now, no weapon formed against us will prosper…When fear lurks, when the past rises up to haunt, when old sins rattle their chains, the blood of Jesus stands against them…When they see that we are safe within the Ark, they must pass by…We are under the Blood – cleansed and set free!!!
|11/18/2021||Revelation 5:9 “And they sang a new song, saying: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation.”|
Two by two, male and female, animals from every species boarded the ark – from the mammoth elephant to the tiniest snail.
Jesus, the Ark of our salvation, provided a way of rescue for people of every kind. Through His sacrifice on the Cross, He welcomes “whosoever will” to join the family of God.
The Good News does not take your nationality, skin color, or social class into consideration. No one is disqualified by the sins of the past or the predicaments of the present. If you have a heartbeat and are breathing, you are the right kind of person to receive salvation through Jesus Christ!
One day, we will gather around the throne of God. Men and women from the whole earth will sing a new song to the only One worthy of worship. The redeemed from every walk of life – bakers and bikers, pastors and prostitutes, teachers and truck drivers – will eat together at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
Animals of every shape, size, and temperament marched aboard Noah’s ark. ..God sent His Son for you…Here is your invitation…He is waving you aboard. ..You are the right kind of person for Him!!!
|11/17/2021||Genesis 8:1 “Then God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the animals that were with him in the ark.”|
By faith, Noah built an ark that carried him through the flood of judgment to safety. He started out before he knew how things would turn out.
The waters of the flood prevailed on the earth. Noah and his family were adrift on a three-story zoo with no rudder, no sail, and no map. They had no place to dock, to plant a seed, to see a future for themselves. Noah must have felt forgotten and forsaken by God.
But God remembered. After 150 days, He closed the windows of heaven, turned off the faucets of the deep, and the floodwaters began to recede.
You may be weeks or months into your own flood. There is no let-up in the pouring rain. You feel alone and abandoned. The water has swamped the sunshine and drowned your dreams.
God knows when the first raindrop fell…He knows when the clouds will clear…He sees the beginning and the end…He is right beside you in the middle…He sees you there…No need to flounder in the floodwaters because He will never leave you…No need to feel alone because He will not turn away…No need to despair because He has given you a future and a hope…He remembers!!!
|11/16/2021||2 Timothy 2:13 “If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.”|
Noah was a faithful man – a righteous man – but he was not perfect. We sometimes struggle to behave like we believe. Even though we are professing His promises, we waver over the “why’s” and stumble in the uncertainty.
Even when we fail, God does not. Even when we are too weak to go on, His strength will be perfected in us; His power will rest on us. When we are hurting beyond words, He will help us. We are such a part of Him that He could never disown us; it would be like denying Himself.
His love and mercy, His grace and provision are not contingent upon our perfection. When our flesh is weak, He says, “My grace is sufficient for you” (II Corinthians 12:9).
When the storm clouds begin to gather. When the rain begins to fall. When the fountains of the deep break open. When the flood begins to rise. We can enter the Ark of salvation and find the safety and shelter we need.
When we fail, He does not…When we cannot, He can…When we do not know, He does…When we are out of answers, He is the Answer…Have faith in God…His grace is sufficient….He remains faithful!!!
|11/15/2021||Proverbs 22:29 “Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before unknown men.”|
Noah heard God’s warning. He believed what God said, and he went right to work. He did not stand in his living room and ask God to manifest the ark in his yard. He did not “name it and claim it” or “mark it and park it.”
Too often, people desire the convenience of the blessing but dismiss the burden of the work. God’s promise does not automatically entitle us to the blessing. We must act on the word that He gives. We take the step of faith that demonstrates our confidence in what He has said.
God promises us the power to get wealth, but He tells us that the person who will not work should not eat either. He promises that His Word will be health to our bones, but we must be good stewards of the physical bodies with which He has blessed us.
Our profession and our conduct must be in agreement. Noah scouted out the forest, felled the trees, sawed the planks, and hammered the nails. He put his faith to work.
God has a plan for our family’s future…Know when you need to pick up the hammer…Let’s behave like we believe…Let’s watch God’s promises come to pass…Let’s get to work!!!
|11/14/2021||Ephesians 6:1 “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.”|
“You’re not the boss of me!” Sound familiar, parents?
We love them with all our hearts. We make sacrifices to provide for all their needs. We take them to church and practice our faith to be Godly, genuine examples. And yet?
Children have responsibility in this equation, too. God instructs them to honor their parents. Not a suggestion, this is a commandment that carries a promise. If they choose to obey, they will enjoy a long life in which things go well for them. For the child who treats his parents with contempt, God reserves a curse.
We must teach our children to take this responsibility seriously. We begin by honoring our Heavenly Father, demonstrating the reverence and respect that He is due. We also honor our own earthly parents – extending forgiveness for past hurts and practicing grace in the present.
And always, we must guard the authority that God gives us as parents – not pals. Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child (Proverbs 22:15), and we must administer the discipline, correction, and training that will help our children mature to walk in God’s commandments.
Parents, love your children…Train them up in the way they should go…Children, obey your parents in the Lord…This is right!!!
|11/13/2021||3 John 1:4 “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”|
After the animals paraded two-by-two into the ark, Noah’s family followed. By faith, they entered the boat that proved to be their salvation.
Noah’s wife must have supported him. When the rest of the world was against him, he needed someone in his corner. Because of their agreement, their sons believed and worked alongside Noah to complete the boat. Finally, they all climbed aboard and waited for the rain to fall.
When we are united in faith with our spouses, our children will follow. When they hear us talk about Jesus as our Best Friend, they will find the love and acceptance they crave in Him. When they catch us reading, reciting, and wrapping our lives around God’s Word, they will recognize its truth as the foundation for life.
When they watch us bow our knees, they will recognize prayer as a first resource – not a last resort. When they see us rely on Jesus to bear our burdens and to provide for us, they will comprehend that He is more than enough to meet every need.
As we persevere in this most holy faith, our children will see that a life in Christ is the only one worth living…As they climb aboard the Ark of salvation, we will know no greater joy!!!
|11/12/2021||II Peter 2:5 “…and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness…”|
Scripture does not celebrate Noah for his naval genius. While he was an impressive boat builder, he is remembered for something more world-shaking.
Because Noah believed God and behaved like he believed, his entire family was saved – eight people in all. That is worth celebrating!
Today’s verse refers to Noah as a preacher of righteousness. Where and to whom did Noah preach? Genesis never mentions him standing behind a pulpit. But every day, Noah shared a message with his life, when he moved in Godly fear to obey His commands.
What message are we preaching to our children? Does our behavior cause them to believe in the God that we serve?
While Noah’s sons may not have understood his actions, they trusted him and followed him into the ark. Our children may not understand why we pray or attend church, but if we set the right example, they will implement those same practices in their own lives.
Are we living consistent lives of faith…Are we beacons that light the way to Jesus in this dark world…If we set the right example, they will follow us into the Ark of salvation…We may not be impressive boat builders, but we will be remembered for something more world-shaking!!!
|11/11/2021||Mark 11:22 “So Jesus answered and said to them, Have faith in God.”|
What is the one thing in your life that opens up the door of opportunity for God to pour out His grace on you and your family?
It is not your works. All of our righteousness – the good things that we do in our own power – is like filthy rags in the sight of God. We cannot earn salvation.
It is not your monetary status. Your family may be held together with golden handcuffs of privilege, but finances will eventually fail.
It is not your educational standing. Even with prestigious degrees, you will collide with a question that no earthly wisdom can answer.
It is not your influence. No matter the awards you have achieved or the accolades you have received, God is not impressed.
Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord because of his faith. When the rest of the world thumbed their noses at God, Noah had faith. When they scorned him, he continued to hammer the nails. When they whispered as he walked down the street, he prayed harder and praised louder.
Even when it is not politically correct, have faith in God…Even when it is not socially acceptable, have faith in God…Your faith will open the door for God to pour out His grace on you and your family!!!
|11/10/2021||Luke 17:26 “And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man.|
God warned Noah of the approaching flood, and Noah heeded that warning. By faith, he began to prepare for the upcoming disaster. His actions saved his whole family.
By God’s divine design, Noah received everything that he needed to escape the coming judgement. He precisely followed God’s blueprint for the ark. He loaded up the animals and hurried his family aboard the boat. God closed the door behind them.
Noah was pressured by the same temptations and surrounded by the same wickedness that we face. And yet, he remained righteous. Because of his faith, his whole family came into the ark with him.
We are surrounded by widespread wickedness like the days of Noah…God has given us everything we need to escape the coming judgment…He gave His only begotten Son to be the Ark of our salvation…When we believe in the promise of God and enter in, we will not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16)…Because of Noah’s obedience, those he loved the most followed him onto the boat…He did not win his neighbors, but his faith convinced his family to enter the ark…Are you doing everything in your power to reach your family for Christ???
|11/9/2021||John 14:29 “And now I have told you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe.”|
Many people grow nervous when the storm clouds roll in and the thunder rumbles in the distance. Imagine how Noah must have felt when he looked up and saw a dark cloud forming on the horizon.
He had heard and heeded God’s instructions. For 100 years, he had worked and warned his family and neighbors. The rain was coming, and the flood would rise. He labored through day-after-day, building a boat for a flood in a world that had never seen a drop of rain.
When he drove the last nail into the final board and saw the storm clouds roll in, he did not get anxious about what was coming. He must have sighed in relief that his faith was fulfilled. He must have thanked God that He was true to His word.
Over two thousand years ago, Jesus assured us that He would return to earth as a conquering King. He made promises about perilous times and the pouring out of His Spirit, about disasters and dreams, about sorrows and signs in the sky, about tribulation and trumpets, about epidemics and the end.
Have you been working for His coming???Have you told your family and friends???God’s Word is true, and His timing is flawless…One day, He will split the eastern sky…His promise endures!!!
|11/8/2021||I Thessalonians 5:11 “Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.”|
No matter what personal flood is swirling around you, be assured that God has placed someone in your life to throw out a line to you.
God created us for relationship with Himself and with one another. He made us family. He instructs us to look out for the interests of others; we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers.
In the middle of strange waters, struggling to keep your head above water, be alert for the person that God has sovereignly placed near you. That is the person who will toss out the life preserver, that will remind you that God has not brought you this far to fail.
In the face of a frightening diagnosis, that brother will testify to Jesus’ healing power. Once drowning in a sea of debt, that sister will tell of a Provider Who is more than enough. She will remind you of His past faithfulness. He will encourage you to trust and persevere. They will stand beside you in the rain and pray for the sun to shine again.
Watch for the hand reaching down to pull you out of the waves…Listen for the life-giving words that will be breath to your lungs…Find hope in the friends that He will give you in the flood!!!
|11/7/2021||Deuteronomy 31:8 “And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.”|
When we face a flood and are tossed about on waves of worry and woe, Satan whispers that God has abandoned us to sink like a stone.
In Genesis 7:11, the rain fell “in the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, on that day.” God did not guess. How comforting that He knew exactly when and where the first raindrop would land!
We might not have seen our flood coming, but God was aware of the building clouds. He sees exactly what lies in our future, and He is already there awaiting our arrival.
From your mother’s womb, He knew that in your thirteenth year, in the second month, on the fifth day, you would need a friend that sticks closer than a brother. He waited there with open arms.
In your thirty-second year, in the sixth month, on the fifteenth day, when the doctor delivered the diagnosis, the Great Physician attended that appointment too. On the day that your heart was shattered, He captured every tear.
Nothing escapes His notice…No random events surprise Him…He holds you in the palm of His hand… Nothing can snatch you away…He is here for you!!!
|11/6/2021||Matthew 25:13 “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming”|
Armed with the blueprints of the ark, Noah went to work. In light of the coming flood, Noah did not delay to gather the gopher wood and get started.
Noah had enough faith to believe that if God said it, He would bring down the rain. He had enough reverence to take action on the plans God had given him.
He must have enlisted the help of his three sons as he built the mammoth boat that would save his family and the animals of the earth. Their father’s faith and fear must have been contagious. His devotion and determination convinced them.
Some have doubted the success of Noah’s ministry. All around him, his neighbors continued to eat, drink, and celebrate life’s events. How they must have laughed and scorned the crazy man whose whole life had been derailed by this building project!
But on the day that the storm clouds gathered, the people that Noah loved the most walked into the boat with him. God closed the door on the ark of their salvation.
Let’s believe in the words of God and get to work on the plans that He has placed in our hearts…Like Noah, let’s be undeterred in our work for the Savior…If we do not grow weary in doing good, we will reap a reward!!!
|11/5/2021||Hebrews 12:28 “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.”|
The alarm beeps every morning. We hop in the shower, grab our coffee, and head out the door to beat the traffic. Our routines make us feel safe and in control.
When Noah was 500 years old, God showed up to shake up his routine. Life had fallen into pleasant patterns, but God was about to do something that had never been done before.
How do we respond to daily disruptions? What happens when the alarm fails to ring, when traffic comes to a standstill, when the principal calls, when the anticipated check does not arrive?
Noah responded with faith. He trusted in the word God spoke, and he was “moved with Godly fear” to gather the wood and pick up his hammer (Hebrews 11:7). He responded with faith…and fear?
This fear was not based in Noah’s anxiety for the future. It was rooted in his utter reverence and respect for his Sovereign Father. It moved him – caused him to take action. He did not rail against the disruption that took him 100 years away from his own plans.
When interruptions hijack your plans you should trust in God…He writes every single page of your story…Walk expectantly into the detour that He lays out before you!!!
|11/4/2021||Hebrews 11:7 “By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household”|
God opened the windows of heaven, and never-before-seen rain cascaded from the sky. The fountains of the deep broke open, and water gushed forth. Noah faced a flood.
Floods are inevitable in our lives. Noah faced a flood of judgment. We may be overwhelmed by a flood of fear, financial lack, physical trial, or family torment.
By faith, Noah teaches us how to navigate the unavoidable floods. If we cling to our faith, God has provided an ark of salvation to deliver us.
God warned Noah of the impending disaster. Noah was unprepared for rain, arks, and zoos. This had never been done before! He had a decision to make. Would he trust in the word of God or in his own intuition that said this was foolishness?
How many times we have deserted our faith to flounder in dark waters…Faith is not faith until it is tested…When we are tried by sickness, God becomes our Healer by faith…In our hour of need, God becomes our Provider by faith…When the rains fall, when the storms rage, when the floods rise…face them with faith in the One Who will shut us in with Him and carry us safely to solid ground!!!
|11/3/2021||Romans 11:33 “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!”|
The wisdom and ways of God are simply over our heads. Impossible to figure out and beyond the realm of our ability!
At God’s word, Noah went to work for 100 years. He had no concept of rain because it had never fallen before. When he drove the final nail, animals arrived two-by-two to climb aboard until God shut the door behind Noah and his family. Unexplainable!
So many things are beyond our understanding. How did a holy God look into an abyss of blackness and say, “Let there be light,” and it came to be?
Why did He plan for His only begotten Son to be the sacrifice for sin from the foundations of the earth?
How did that Son come through the womb of a virgin to be crucified in our place?
We certainly cannot explain how, after three days in the grave, He burst forth to ascend to the right hand of God where He now rules.
How incomprehensible that, in the name of Jesus, we have access to bring our petitions to the Father…We have no reason for “exceedingly abundantly above all that we could ever ask or imagine” or “pressed down, shaken together, and running over”…Unsearchable and past finding out…He is the God of the impossible!!!
|11/2/2021||I Peter 4:7 “But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers”|
Jesus Christ is coming soon! All around us, we see the signs of His nearing return.
Jesus warned us of these impending signs: wars, rumors of wars, disease, famine, earthquakes, deceivers who claim to be Jesus, increased wickedness, a lack of love, and a migration of Jews back to Israel. For anyone who watches the news, these are daily realities that cause us to look up, because our redemption is closing in (Luke 21:28).
His approaching return stirs a sense of urgency in our hearts. We have work to do before the trumpet blast and His appearance in the clouds! We must remain sober and alert because no one knows the day when He will descend to catch us away.
We are Christ’s ambassadors while we remain…He has given us everything we need to succeed in our mission…We must be devoted to prayer, good stewards over all the gifts He has entrusted to us…We will give an account for the ways that we manage all He has given…Watch and pray…Work diligently at the tasks that He places before you…Keep your eyes on the sky…We will not be caught off guard when we live in expectation of His return!!!
|11/1/2021||Psalm 127:4 “Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth”|
They are exceptionally noisy and incredibly messy. They question our decisions and challenge our authority. They monopolize our days and keep us up at night. And we love them more than our lives – these children that God has given to us.
Our children are our legacy and future. We are commissioned by our Heavenly Father to raise up the next generation to follow Him, to thoroughly prepare them for a life in Christ.
As parents, we are charged with teaching them about this marvelous Savior to Whom we have devoted our lives. We must raise them up to love Him and fully embrace His Word and the power of the Holy Spirit.
They are like arrows in our hands – pointed and purposeful…We sharpen them to shoot them into the future, to carry the power of Jesus into the years beyond us…We must be intentional as we model and mold, train and teach, love and lead – always pointing them to Jesus…If we submit to the mission and the necessary sacrifices to pass this torch, our arrows will be pointed and prepared…They will fly true and straight to hit the mark of God’s purpose every time!!!
|10/31/2021||Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God”|
In our noisy and hectic lives, silence is scarce. Rest is rare. The idea of stillness actually fills some with dread and alarm.
And yet, God beckons us into stillness before Him. We often lament how distant – even absent – God seems, but we infrequently sit alone in His presence just to listen. We expect Him to catch us on the fly, to whisper life-altering truths in our ears as we frantically fit one more activity into our day.
Elijah stood on the side of a mountain, waiting to hear. A wind tore across it, so strong that it shattered rocks. Afterwards, an earthquake shook the ground, and a fire blazed through the trees. God was in none of those things. Then came a still, small voice that was so powerful that Elijah wrapped his cloak over his face. How often have we missed the still, small voice?
Jesus often stole away from the crowds and even His close-knit group of disciples. He sought the solitude of a garden or the Galilean hills to communicate with His Father. The instruction and encouragement He received in those hours fueled His earthly ministry. His example inspires us to do the same.
Being quiet takes discipline…It means carving out time and clearing away the clutter to sit in the presence of God…Find a place…Be still…Listen expectantly…Make room for Him!!!
|10/30/2021||Job 23:12 “I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.”|
Pastor John Hagee once told his son, Pastor Matt: “If you’ll take the time to dig into God’s Word and tell others what He says, they’ll come from all over the world to hear you. But if all you do is tell them what you say, they won’t cross the street to listen.”
While most of us will not become internationally-known ministers, the wisdom in these words applies to us, too. This world is perishing for a lack of knowledge. They have rejected God’s laws and are reaping the painful consequences of living outside of His will.
People need to hear the Word of God – not the latest self-help advice, psychological diagnoses, or our well wishes. So many are floundering – and even falling – because they have failed to get the Word into themselves.
Job said that he treasured God’s words more than his necessary food; they sustained, nourished, and gave life to his faith walk. There, he found strength to persevere.
Take time to read it, memorize it, meditate on it…Dig in…We may not have silver or gold, but we can share the riches of God with others…Out of the storehouse in our hearts, we can give the life and love found in Jesus alone!!!
|10/29/2021||Psalm 45:17 “I will make Your name to be remembered in all generations; therefore the people shall praise You forever and ever.”|
We are members of one, big, beautiful family! We count Christian brothers and sisters of all nations, tongues, cultures, and generations among our numbers. We are one family united under one Father.
As we submit to His Word individually and in the corporate life of our local assemblies, we sometimes overlook the greater, global church of which we are a part. Across the planet, believers cry out to the same God, apply the same beloved Scriptures, and believe in the same mission to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Each of us has a part to play as one generation shares the holy name of Jesus with the next. The older generation is charged with mentoring the younger ones. How rich are the testimonies of those whose faith was forged in the fires of perseverance!
For those in the middle generations, they must perpetuate the convictions and character of those who have gone before. The Truth that we have received transcends generations. They must pass the baton to those young ones who are listening and learning the love of our Savior.
Submission to the mission is how we accomplish God’s plans and purposes through every generation…He equips and empowers us to do His work in every age…What part will you play???
|10/28/2021||Philippians 2:3 “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.”|
We move at warp speed, rushing through exhausting days to fall into bed with unmet demands still burdening our hearts.
With so many responsibilities and so much pressure to perform, it is easy to develop tunnel vision. We focus exclusively on ourselves and our dreams and desires. Others become resources to reach our goals or nuisances that impede our progress.
Jesus calls us away from a life of selfishness into a life of sacrifice. Following His example, we learn to look up and look around. When the disciples shooed away the children who clambered around Christ, He stopped them and pulled the children in for a blessing.
On a life-or-death mission, He stopped for the woman with the issue of blood. On the Sabbath day, while the Pharisees looked on scornfully, He healed the man with a withered hand.
In the middle of important work, He noticed and took time. In fact, the irritants and outcasts were His important work. Instead of pushing them to the fringes of society, He pulled in the prostitutes, swindlers, crippled, and poor.
Where can we swap our selfish ambition for sacrifice?…How can we exchange our conceit for concern?…In the middle of our important work, let us look up and look around!!!
|10/27/2021||Luke 9:23 “Then He said to them all, If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”|
A war rages inside each of us. The desire to do right is at odds with the desire to do wrong.
We each struggle with the temptation born of our fleshly nature. Sin comes naturally to our “old man,” the person we were before we made Jesus our Savior.
When we come to Jesus, the Spirit of God calls us to be more like Him. We have been crucified with Christ – dead to sin and alive in Christ. We put off the former sinful conduct we once practiced with its passions and desires. We are no longer powerless slaves to sin.
If we go after Jesus, we deny ourselves – say no to the desires of our sinful nature. We take up our cross every day – put to death anything that would rise in opposition against God. We follow His example – in our attitudes, our speech, our actions.
Our old nature wars against our new…but we do not battle alone…The same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead lives in us now…He empowers us to put the old man to death…We need not fear that we will slip back into the bondage of sin…If God is for us, nothing can stand against us!!!
|10/26/2021||Isaiah 6:8 “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’ Then I said, Here am I! Send me.”|
Difference makers come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and cultures. They often do not possess extraordinary talents or special gifts that set them apart from others. The one thing they have in common? Willingness.
They have decided to live with an attitude of gratitude. They determine to serve Him as a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. They are simply willing to try.
In Isaiah 6, Isaiah had an awe-inspiring vision of God cloaked in glory and surrounded by angels. The Lord asked, “Who will go?” Isaiah immediately blurted out, “Here am I! Send me.”
He did not take an inventory of his skills, make a list of all his inadequacies, or spout excuses for why he could not volunteer. In complete surrender, he simply said, “Here am I!”
Differences are as unique as difference makers. It is the woman who rocks babies at the local hospital. Or, the man who drives the church van. Or, the person who serves meals at the homeless shelter. Or, someone who sends a timely text. It is as simple as seeing a need and stepping in to meet it.
God is still asking, “Who will go?”…Be brave enough to say yes…Be grateful enough to go…Be determined to make a difference!!!
|10/25/2021||Jeremiah 9:24 “But let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth”|
Consistent prayer brings us into proximity with God. It develops intimacy and allows us to hear His voice when others might not.
Jesus is our true Shepherd, and we are His sheep. He calls us by name and leads us in His paths. We recognize His voice because we have spent time in His presence. His whisper has calmed our fears in the deep of night. His warning cry has kept our feet from the edge of the cliff.
People often say that they want to know the will of God, but they fail to ask Him. Or, they ask once and give up quickly. Jesus longs for us to pursue Him in prayer. More than the occasional try, He desires an ongoing and sustained effort.
Jesus is our Bridegroom, and we are the bride of Christ. This illustration calls to mind the rich love of a long marriage – the quiet conversations, hard questions, inside jokes, easy laughter, and vulnerable tears. He knows the lines of her face, and she recognizes his voice. Jesus yearns for that love relationship with us.
Unceasing prayer keeps us in His presence…As we learn the cadence of His voice, intimacy grows between us…May we glory in knowing and understanding Him!!!
|10/24/2021||1 John 5:14 “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.”|
Prayer is a privilege. Prayer is powerful. It rearranges our attitude and pulls us into alignment with the will of God.
For too many, prayer feels like an awkward encounter with a stranger. But prayer can flow as easily as a comfortable conversation with an old friend. As natural as breathing in and breathing out, it runs like a current throughout our days and nights.
Communicating with our Father should become such a habit that we do not even realize that we are praying – a part of our very identity. This inhaling and exhaling of petitions is an open invitation to Jesus to breathe His life into every situation.
When you have an important presentation at work…Pray…When you need wisdom to parent an unruly child…Pray…As you talk with a friend devastated by a divorce…Pray…As you contemplate a financial investment…Pray…Nothing is too small to request God’s assistance…If He has counted the hairs on your head, He is in the details that seem insignificant to others…Nothing is too big to request God’s assistance…He specializes in impossibilities…Partner with God in prayer today…Listen for His still, small voice and watch for His answers in response to the constant outcry of your heart!!!
|10/23/2021||Colossians 4:2 “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving”|
Paul encouraged us to pray without ceasing. Do it all the time without letting up! Prayer aligns our attitude with God.
Prayer may be the most overlooked and underutilized gift that God ever gave us. What power we possess when we pray! How was the New Testament church built? Prayer. What healed the sick? Prayer. What brought revival fires in the past? Prayer.
Prayer is more than a nursery rhyme that our children recite at bedtime, a monotonous chant, or a religious ritual to check off of our to-do lists. Prayer is a privilege.
In the Old Testament, the Israelites did not have immediate access to God. They could approach Him through the priest, in a particular place on a particular day in a particular way. Only then could they make their requests known.
When Jesus died on Calvary, God tore the veil in the Temple from top to bottom. He ripped apart the barrier between us. Jesus, our High Priest, became our once-and-for-all sacrifice, and He now sits at God’s right hand to intercede for us.
We need only whisper His name to be ushered into the throne room where we can meet face-to-face…Call on Him at any time – all the time – with an attitude of expectancy…Cultivate a continuous attitude of prayer!!!
|10/22/2021||Psalm 34:1 “I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.”|
Praising God changes the atmosphere. Psalm 22 declares that God is enthroned in – inhabits – the praises of Israel.
When we are going through a difficult situation, our persistent praise is a personal invitation to the throne room of God. It welcomes Him to show up and demonstrate His power in our circumstances.
Consider Job who lost so much in one day – his ten children, business, and health. Kneeling beside freshly-dug graves, Job said, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away” (Job 1:21). Job’s praise did not cancel the facts. In spite of them, he followed those words with: “Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job was not in denial; he made a declaration.
God had been good to him in the past, and he could trust Him in the present. He had blessed him in the best of times, and He would not abandon him in the worst. God was too wise to be mistaken and too loving to be unkind. And even while walking through the darkest valley of his life…blessed be the name of the Lord.
God is consistent and constant…Praise Him…even in the middle of the storm…Your praise demonstrates your trust and invites Him to your side…Bless the Lord at all times!!!
|10/21/2021||Psalm 118:24 “This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”|
Gratitude determines our attitude. The more thankful we are, the better our attitude – and our outcome – will be.
Rejoicing is a habit that we choose. It has nothing to do with the details of our circumstances but everything to do with a heart fixed on Him. And practice makes perfect!
When the alarm rings, thank God for new mercies every morning. This is the day that the Lord has made – choose to meet it with gladness.
Make work a sacrifice of praise to God. No complaining about overpacked schedules or unpleasant coworkers! Thank God for the means to provide for our families and for healthy bodies to accomplish all that is required.
As we drift off to sleep, thank God for our homes, for protection over loved ones, for the food that He gave us to eat today.
And always, thank God for the joy of our salvation! His Blood has washed us white as snow, forgiven us, and set us free. Even on rough days, thank Him for His sufficient grace that covers all imperfections. For protection and provision, bless His holy name.
Make gratitude your point on purpose…As we think on all He has done, gratitude swells in our hearts to overflow into our attitudes which change the atmosphere and our outcomes…Rejoice and be glad!!!
|10/20/2021||1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”|
Our attitude determines the difference we make. Our focus on God’s goodness factors into our ability to have kingdom impact.
People with the right attitude often do impossible things. Conversely, people with the wrong attitude do little; they tie their own hands.
In every circumstance, our attitude decides whether to name it a blessing or a burden. In every challenge, we choose whether to believe God for more or to become frustrated by the situation. Our attitude determines whether we will praise Him or whether we will dissolve into complaints and accusations.
Complaining cancels out the power of praise. God instructs everything that has breath to praise Him. Praise Him for His mighty acts! Praise Him for His excellent greatness! When we elevate our perspective, our attitude comes into alignment.
Our attitude is determined by three things: the gratitude that is in our hearts, how we praise God, and the time that we spend in prayer. We are not helpless victims of our emotions. We have the option to choose our actions and reactions. We get to decide!
Rejoice always…Pray without ceasing…In everything, give thanks…This is the will of God in Christ Jesus for all of us…These actions determine our attitude and the difference we make!!!
|10/19/2021||1 Corinthians 2:2 “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”|
No matter how insignificant we may feel, when we determine to proclaim Jesus, we make a difference.
Edward Kimball was a Sunday School teacher in Detroit in the 1850’s. When a young visitor told Kimball that he had no interest in knowing Jesus, he could not let it go. Kimball went to his workplace, purchased a shoe shine, and began to witness to him. Before he left, D.L. Moody received Jesus as his Savior.
Moody became a powerful evangelist who reached more than one hundred million people with the Gospel. Frederick Meyer’s congregation heard about the American revival and invited Moody to London. He preached three sermons, every one entitled, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.” Revival swept through the church, and Meyer’s ministry was transformed.
J. Wilbur Chapman came to Christ in Meyer’s church and eventually moved to Chicago where he led Billy Sunday to salvation. Sunday became a great preacher, and Mordecai Ham was saved at one of his meetings.
Ham went on to become one of the first tent revivalists. One night in North Carolina, under Ham’s large circus tent where people stood shoulder to shoulder, a young man came to check out the spectacle. That night in 1936, Billy Graham came to know Jesus.
Because one seemingly insignificant Sunday School teacher was serious about winning the lost, generations of people around the globe were impacted by Christ. What you do for Jesus matters. Go and tell! Win the lost!!!
|10/18/2021||Acts 17:28 “For in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, For we are also His offspring.”|
Everything that God created, He connected to a source. As long as the created stays connected, it lives and thrives.
In the heavens, God placed the sun and stars. If a star falls from the sky, it dies; it has disconnected from its source. On the earth, God placed trees and plants. If we pull fresh flowers from the ground, they begin to wither and die apart from their life source.
When God made humans, He created us out of Himself. Made in His image, He breathed life into us. In Him, we live and move and have our being – we are His children! We have unlimited potential because our Source is limitless.
Sin created a soul-deep problem…Sin separated us from our Source…Every one of us has sinned and is dead in trespasses…Like a fish out of water, we flail and gasp for breath…We are not where we belong…We are outside of His provision and power…Without connection to our Source, we are dead men and women walking…Salvation through Christ reconnects us to our Source…We find life, wholeness, and abundance…Apart from Him, we can do nothing…Stay plugged in to stay powered up!!!
|10/17/2021||Matthew 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”|
We are God’s workmanship, and we have been created to do good works that God planned out for us in advance.
These are not good works that we perform for salvation. These are good works that we complete so others will be persuaded to receive salvation.
After the New Testament church received the Great Commission, they went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them (Mark 16:20-21). They took the Gospel into their homes, streets, and workplaces. They told friends, neighbors, strangers, and enemies what Jesus had done. And they turned the world upside down!
The Lord still works with us…When we do what He commanded us to do, He rewards us with His presence and power to accomplish His will…If we dedicate our homes to God, He will use them for His purposes…People will come in and experience the light and love of Jesus and will leave with the peace of God…If we dedicate our businesses to God, His unlimited resources become available to us…When our mission statement is His, He will open doors of opportunity and increase…When we are about God’s business, He partners with us…Let’s get to work so others will take notice and glorify our Heavenly Father!!!
|10/16/2021||Psalm 139:14 “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.”|
From the top of your head to the tips of your toes, God created the amazingly unique you.
You are His workmanship, created by God and for God. How easy it is, though, to be discouraged in the middle of the messiness – to feel unsaved, unworthy, and outside of His blessings. Remember that you are a work in progress!
Think about an intricate mosaic floor. From a distance, you appreciate the beauty of its overall plan. However, the closer you move towards it, the less you can comprehend the entire design. In fact, up close, you only focus on one broken shard of pottery. When all you see is brokenness, it is not impressive. It all comes down to perspective.
God is working on you. He takes this broken piece, that shattered moment, this unplanned event, that mountain, this battle. He pulls it all together one piece at a time, over days and decades. Step back and see where you once were and where you are now, and know that God truly has worked all things together for your good.
Take heart…He has been refining you all these years…He will not quit until you are perfect in every way because He always completes every good work that He begins!!!
|10/15/2021||Ephesians 2:8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.”|
If anyone is in Christ Jesus, he is a new creation (II Corinthians 5:17)! The moment that we accept Jesus as Savior, we are made new.
The truth is that – until we come to Christ – we only have the ability to become a reformed version of our old selves. We can embark on a journey of self-improvement, but without Jesus, true change is impossible.
Too many believe they can grasp salvation in their own strength. They cease and desist sinning all on their own. Even if they have the self-discipline to do that, they still have a problem.
Their behavior has changed, but their sins have not been forgiven. They still need to be washed by the Blood of Jesus. Without the shedding of Blood, there is no remission of sins (Hebrews 9:22).
Grace – by faith – is what saves us…Grace is the work that God does, and He gives it to us as a gift…Faith in our ability does not save us; faith in His ability does…Works cannot save us – only His grace and Blood wash us clean…How liberating to trust in His promise and rest in the work that He accomplished…Grace is the gift that He gives!!!
|10/14/2021||Luke 14:23 “Then the master said to the servant,‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.”|
To every Christian, Jesus has issued the order to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.
Jesus spoke these words to a small group of faithful followers thousands of years ago, but this special assignment was not for twelve disciples alone. This commission was not isolated just to them. This special order was for every person who has ever received Jesus.
If you accepted him forty years or four days ago, you have the same commission. Go and tell someone else who Jesus is and what He has done. No need to memorize chapter and verse or pass a test. Just remember these three simple words: win the lost!
No matter your denomination or tradition, win the lost…No matter your age or generation, win the lost…No matter your unique gifts or the one thing to which God has called you, win the lost…No matter where you have been or where you are going, win the lost…If you are looking for a passion and a purpose, win the lost…This is how to make a difference…When you win the lost, you introduce the sinner to the Difference Maker, and He changes everything!!!
|10/13/2021||Matthew 28:19-20 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you”|
Members of the United States military have one commission to uphold: to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.
No matter the branch of service – Air Force, Navy, Army, Marines or Coast Guard – the commission is the same. No matter the generation, training or assignment, the Enlistment Oath connects every service person who has ever worn the military uniform.
Even when a Marine argues his superiority over an Army soldier – one commission. Whether a soldier engaged in conflict or did not – one commission. Regardless if a service person retired as a four-star general or was discharged as a private – one commission.
As blood-bought, Bible-believing followers of Christ, we have one simple commission: go! God has commanded us to go into all the world and preach the Good News to every creature…When Jesus redeemed us, we were drafted into the army of the Living God…We are united under His banner and have received our marching orders…When His truth is ignited in the depths of our souls, we are compelled to share the message of the gospel with those who are outside of His saving grace…We must go and tell the life-changing things that Jesus has done for us!!!
|10/12/2021||Ecclesiastes 4:9 “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor.”|
We shine better together! Jesus looked at a group of people and said, “You are the light of the world.”
He spoke to each individual, since His light has taken up residence in each of our hearts. He also spoke to them as a group. Why? Because we shine brighter and better together!
Once we decide to try, to shine, to be difference makers, we must be willing to work with others. The church often suffers from an “I” problem – what “I” want, what “I” need, what “I” do. Instead, we must learn to ask how we can accomplish God’s plans together. How can we better reach this world?
How freeing to appreciate our differences! If we all are exactly alike, most of us are unnecessary. But He created us beautifully unique. Iron sharpens iron – one blade cuts against another – and friends hone the character of each other. In the places where one of us lacks, another comes to fill in the gaps; we come into agreement.
Under the cause of Christ, we unite to accomplish His purposes…Our God-given differences were made to complement – not compete with – one another…We are united in a purpose that is much greater than ourselves…Together, we will shine so brightly that His glory will pour out to flood the whole earth!!!
|10/11/2021||John 4:36 “And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together.”|
We love to celebrate big things! We bestow huge awards on people who perform better than everyone else. Behind every person who reaps the recognition, though, someone else has sown the little things.
In 1970, Dr. Norman Borlaug was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his extensive work in agriculture. Scientists estimate that his discoveries saved over two billion people who would have starved to death.
Along with Borlaug, we must recognize Henry Wallace, one-time Vice-President of the United States. As the former Secretary of Agriculture, he believed that if the world was going to be at peace, it needed food. He hired young Borlaug to study ways to feed the world.
George Washington Carver must receive credit, too. Before he became the genius of his generation, he volunteered to take his professor’s son on nature hikes. There, he taught young Henry Wallace how all plants were created by God and could be used for great reasons.
Before that, Moses and Susan Carver rescued George from a band of bushwhackers who murdered his mother and kidnapped him. To honor his mother’s memory, they adopted George as their own.
Do not despise this day of small beginnings…Only God knows what eternal fruit will grow from the seeds you plant today!!!
|10/10/2021||1 Timothy 6:18 “Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share”|
One person who sees a need and is willing to try can change everything. A simple willingness to try can make all the difference.
Over forty years ago, Pastor John Hagee invited a nine-year-old boy to church. The youngster responded that he would love to go to church, but he did not have a ride. Pastor Hagee promised to find a ride for him. When he asked the church for a volunteer, a teenage girl raised her hand.
Every service the boy could attend, that young lady made certain that he made it to church. From the outside, it looked like a little thing, a mere good deed. In reality, she was a world changer.
That nine-year-old’s path changed the moment He surrendered his life into God’s hands. The course of his family destiny was altered for eternity. He became a pediatrician who has treated thousands of patients. For twenty years, he has volunteered as a Cornerstone Church cameraman so people around the world can tune in to worship. Thousands of people have been impacted by Jesus because one young girl was willing to try.
You are not responsible for a whole eternal destiny…but you can meet just one small need today…What a difference you could make if you were only willing to try!!!
|10/9/2021||Ephesians 2:10 “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”|
You are not defined by your function. Who you are is not confined to what you do. You are a difference maker.
You might be a parent, a postal worker, a painter or a pediatrician, but that is not all that you are. Elevate your perspective: you are defined by the purpose for which God has called you.
As a parent, you impact future generations. When your children become tomorrow’s leaders, the difference they make will be determined by what you do today. More than having hot dogs with the kids, you are feeding a feast to future difference makers!
God told Jeremiah that He formed, called, and ordained him before he was even born. And God has a divine purpose for you! He prepared good works for you to accomplish today long before you arrived here – walk in them!
When every little thing that you do…wiping a nose…sliding a letter through a slot…splashing color on a canvas…making a diagnosis…is done in the name of the Lord Jesus with an attitude of gratitude, He infuses those actions with holy purpose…More than fulfilling a function, you are created to make an eternal difference!!!
|10/8/2021||Matthew 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”|
You never know the difference you could make until you try. Little things make a big impact.
Think of how your own life has been transformed by little things. A smile brightened your outlook on a rough day. A handshake welcomed you into a room filled with strangers. Three simple words – I love you – set your feet on the road to happily-ever-after.
The slightest bit of effort can change everything. Destinies have been changed by a little invitation to church. Lives have been impacted by a little word spoken in defense. Suffering has been eased by a little willingness to reach into others’ pain.
Do not disqualify yourself from the exact place where God wants to fit little you into His bigger plan. You may feel inadequate for the task to which He is calling you, but remember that it is His Spirit – not your might or strength – that empowers you.
Little things in the hand of an almighty God make a great difference…Give God a baby in a basket, and He will deliver a nation…Give God a shepherd boy with a slingshot, and He will bring down a giant…Give God five loaves and two fish, and He will feed 5,000…Never underestimate how little becomes much when God is in it!!!
|10/7/2021||Matthew 5:13-14 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? You are the light of the world.”|
We are the light of the world. We are the salt of the earth. We are the difference makers that change destiny.
If salt loses its flavor, it has no value. If light is hidden under a basket, no one will see it. Are we doing what we were created to do?
We are the light of the world. This is not a simple statement made by a common man. Jesus has expertise in light. He was there when the Father looked down into the void of darkness. When God commanded, “Let there be light,” Jesus brought light to form.
And when Jesus looks at you, He does not see an ordinary, everyday individual. He recognizes inside of you the same power that changed everything in Genesis. The change agent that God used to dispel darkness in the beginning is the same power that exists inside your soul.
When you shine, darkness flees…When you shine, light breaks forth…When you shine, the glory of God rises over the situation…When you shine, new life is born…Your salt and light can change destiny!!!
|10/6/2021||Esther 4:14 “…Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”|
“What difference does it make?” Have you ever asked yourself that question? Have you talked yourself out of taking action with that question?
You are a difference maker! Every day, whether you are intentional or not, you make an impact – for the good or the not-so-good. You decide the difference that you will make.
Instead of counting our blessings, we frequently choose to focus on things we would like to change. When it comes time to take the action that leads to change, though, we often throw up our hands and ask, “What difference does it make?” With that question, we discount any strategy, action, or outcome that would help us achieve our goal.
Do you wish your boss appreciated you more? Show up early. Stay later. Do a little more than what is required.
Do you wish you were in better physical shape? Put down the remote. Take a walk. Make healthier eating choices.
Do you wish that your family life was stronger? Spend time together. Look one another in the eyes. Talk about your accomplishments and challenges.
The power to make a difference lives in you…God has chosen you…He has inserted you into this moment in history to impact the world for Him…Live in wide-eyed expectation for the difference He will make through you today!!!
|10/5/2021||Psalm 146:7 “Who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry. The LORD gives freedom to the prisoners.”|
In Psalm 146, ten verses give us ten reasons to rejoice for His kindness. We have good reason to shout!
The Lord sets prisoners free. Freedom – true, meaningful, spiritual freedom – cannot be found outside of Jesus Christ. Only He can break our chains and release us from sin.
We once were slaves to sin, and Satan was our slave master. But Jesus came to dwell among us. What He came to do in His earthly ministry, He has done in each of our lives. He touched the sick and set them free from disease. He touched the sinners and delivered them from the shackles of their past.
He spoke the Word, and the dead came back to life. The same hands that reached out to the sick and the sinful in the New Testament are the same hands that reach from Calvary, through the crimson stream, to touch us today.
The Lord has set us free…Like Lazarus, we have walked from death into life…Like Zacchaeus, we have walked from sin into salvation…Like Bartimaeus, we have walked out of the blindness of our yesterdays to see God’s purpose in our lives…Cry out for freedom…Lift your voice to declare your liberty…Now is the time to shout!!!
|10/4/2021||Matthew 28:20 “…and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen.”|
God is our help in times of trouble. But if He promises to never leave us, why does He allow the terrible trials that we all experience?
God will allow us to go through difficulties, but He will never abandon us. He is beside us every step of the way through every circumstance.
A tangible example of this promise can be found in our long-ago experience of learning to ride a bike. When we perched on the seat, someone older and wiser than we were demonstrated how to peddle and taught us to steer. Before we pushed off, we said, “Don’t let go!”
As we peddled, they jogged alongside. As we mastered the balance and gained momentum, they began to run. Suddenly, they disappeared, and we were doing it! Until we realized their hand was no longer on the back of the seat. “Where did you goooooo?”
But they were there to pick us up, dust us off, dry our tears and tell us, “If you want to learn to ride this bike, I have to let you go.”
In order for us to learn what God wants to teach us, He will allow us to go through some challenging situations…When we fall, He is there to pick us up, brush us off, and encourage us to try again…
|10/3/2021||Ezra 3:11 “And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the LORD…. Then all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD…”|
Have you ever met someone who was excited about the win before the game ever began? That attitude sums up the shout of praise.
The shout of praise is something that you lift up before you see the victory. It is a shout filled with expectation and the certainty that if God has done it before, He will do it again.
The shout of praise is not rooted in denial; it is grounded in faith. You see a problem, but you know the Waymaker. You need healing, but you know the Great Physician. You need a miracle, but you know the Mountain-mover. In spite of how impossible the situation appears, God specializes in impossibilities.
He is worthy of your shout of praise…His great displays of power prove that He is able to meet your every need…He will part the Red Sea…The walls of your Jericho will crumble in the face of your shout…He will walk beside you through the fiery furnace…From the ashes of those dead dreams, He will resurrect your life…In anticipation of the victory, raise a shout of praise…Your faith is the victory that overcomes the world!!!
|10/2/2021||Jeremiah 33:3 “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”|
Whether it is a shout for help or a shout for joy, we know that it is not why we shout, when we shout, or what we shout. It is to WHOM we shout that makes all the difference!
We do not cry out to some unnamed cosmic force that is limited in strength. We do not plead with a disinterested power with no compassion for our plight.
We shout to the Creator of the universe, the One Who spoke the heavens and earth into existence. We shout to the One Who fashioned each one of us uniquely in our mother’s womb, Who knows the exact number of hairs on our heads, Who has designed our divine destinies, Who has been working on our behalf since the day we took our first breath.
He gently challenges us to call to Him – to shout out – and He assures us that He will answer…Not only will He respond, but He will reveal wondrous mysteries to us – things that were once hidden, that we were not able to comprehend…When we shout to God, He moves heaven and earth for us…When we shout to God, we lift our hearts and our shouts to the King of kings and Lord of lords…And HE makes all the difference!!!
|10/1/2021||Psalm 98:4 “Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth; break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises.”|
Sometimes, our “Hallelujah!” breaks out with ease. We remember what God has done for us in the past. We see all of the wonderful things He is doing in our present, and we anticipate sunny days ahead.
When the storms come or the unthinkable occurs, our natural inclination is to fall silent, to shut in our shout. However, our shout for joy is not based on our circumstances. They change in a moment. Our emotions waver wildly. Our moods swing with our situation.
Our joy, though, is not a byproduct of circumstances. Fullness of joy is found in the presence of God (Psalm 16:11). If He abides inside of us, His joy – no matter what the situation – resides deep in our spirits.
In our season of need, we remember the Lord is our Shepherd; we shall not want. In our season of trouble, we sense His presence as we walk through the very shadow of death; His nearness comforts us. In our season of confusion, we find clarity in our Light and Salvation; we have no reason to fear.
Everything in our world need not be perfect before we shout for joy…In our very core, we recognize the fullness of God and His all-sufficiency to meet whatever it is we face…From that absolute certainty, our shout of joy erupts!!!
|9/30/2021||Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”|
When we are overwhelmed, God is our safe place to hide. When we are in the grip of a crisis, He stands ready to assist. His ear is attuned to our shout for help.
In the middle of a storm, Jesus came walking on the water towards the disciples’ boat. Peter was the only apostle who had the courage to get out of the boat and walk towards Him. In a blink, he was drowning in waves he had been walking over moments before. As the sea crashed over his head, Peter shouted a short and powerful prayer, “Lord, save me!”
His desperation caused him to be blunt. Our humble “God, I need you” pulls Him into our situation. We will never be independent of Him, and grace says that we have no need to be. God wants us. His eyes are on us, and His ears are open to our cries.
If you are surrounded on every side, if you are going under for the last time, shout to Jesus for help…Your desperation may cause you to be blunt…Your despair may cause you to be bold in your request…But even as the cry is torn from the depths of your spirit, He will be there, leaning over with hand outstretched to catch hold of you!!!
|9/29/2021||Joshua 1:9 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”|
The apostle Paul is a good example. After his conversion to Christ, he immediately withdrew into the wilderness of Arabia before returning to Damascus (Galatians 1:17). In total, he ministered some fourteen years in relative obscurity before being embraced by the leaders of the Jerusalem church (Galatians 1:21–2:2). An even longer period of obscurity was endured by Moses—forty years as a shepherd in Midian before God called him to go back to Egypt to lead the Hebrews out of captivity.
Sometimes God sets us apart in order to prepare us for what is coming next…There is always a purpose in His plans…
|9/28/2021||Matthew 16:15-16 “He said to them, But who do you say that I am? Simon Peter answered and said, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”|
Jerusalem was abuzz with the question: “Who is this?” Who was this humble man riding on a donkey amid a cheering crowd?
Some waved Him off; it’s just the son of Joseph and Mary. Others shrugged; He is just another prophet from Galilee. Still others saw Him as their rebel hero arriving to overthrow their oppressors.
Earlier, when Jesus posed this question to the disciples, Peter did not mince words: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” How do we respond when others sense the Spirit of God in us and inquire, “Who is this?”
Do we make our faith something bland and boring? Do we portray Him as something they can ignore or do we proclaim Him in a way that they can never forget?
Because He is risen, we are alive…When we did not deserve it, He forgave us and showed us mercy…When we were alone, He called us His friends…When we were weak, He was strong…When we were abandoned, He showed Himself faithful and true…When we were in trouble, He was there beside us…There is no one like Him…Who do you say that He is?
|9/27/2021||1 Thessalonians 4:17 “Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.”|
Jesus is coming again! We can lose sight of this fact in the here-and-now directly in front of us, but every day brings us closer to His return. In the same way that He ascended to heaven after His resurrection, He will return again.
As the Day approaches, we will see signs and wonders: fire, blood, wars, and earthquakes. People will love themselves and their money. They will be disobedient and despisers of good, boasters and blasphemers, unholy and unloving.
But in the last days, He also will pour out His Spirit on all people. Sons and daughters will prophesy. Young men will see visions, and old men will dream dreams. Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. When we see these signs, we will rejoice for our Bridegroom is on the way!
Instead of a Suffering Servant, He will return as a conquering King. With a shout and the blast of a trumpet, He will descend.
No crowds will clamor for His crucifixion…No corrupt powers will sentence Him to execution…On that day, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father…Our King is coming back!!!
|9/26/2021||Psalm 119:160 “The entirety of Your Word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever.”|
All Scripture is God-breathed – inspired by Him – and is profitable for conviction, correction, and instruction. It re-sets the direction of our lives and teaches us to live in a manner pleasing to Him.
Our sophisticated world expresses skepticism about the veracity of the Bible; many even disregard the verses they choose not to believe. The Psalmist makes it clear though: all of His Word is true.
He always keeps His word. Always. Scholars count over 1200 prophesies in the Bible. Over 400 of those prophesies pointed to the coming Messiah. His life and death perfectly fulfilled every single one. Over 3000 promises beckon in the Scriptures. You can stand on every one.
The grass may wither, the flower may fade, but the Word of God stands forever (Isaiah 40:8). Every jot, every tittle, every comma, every period, every letter, every line, every word on every page will all be fulfilled. God has magnified His Word above His name (Psalm 138:2) and watches over it to be certain that it is fulfilled (Jeremiah 1:12).
The Word has been mocked by cynics, dissected by unbelievers, and diluted by frauds. Yet, for all the abuse it has taken, it still endures as a testament to His faithfulness. It is the whole truth of God!!!
|9/25/2021||John 4:24 “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”|
The atmosphere was electric! Jesus came riding a donkey into Jerusalem on His way to the temple. The frenzied crowd threw down their robes across His path. Others waved branches as they shouted exuberantly, “Hosanna!”
Was this true worship? Because a mere few days later, this same crowd shouted, “Crucify Him!” This was not the Savior that they expected.
Jesus had confronted the Romans and the corrupt Jewish leaders; in Him was a political opportunity to overthrow their oppressors. Jesus took two fish and five loaves to feed 5000; in Him was unlimited resources. He restored Lazarus from the dead; in Him was the ability to raise up their wounded. They could not lose in a battle with Rome!
When their hero was arrested, their “worship” quickly disintegrated into contempt. If He could not give what they demanded, He was dead to them. They wanted Jesus to give them what they desired – not to give Him what He wanted. It begs the question of why we worship.
Do we worship Jesus for the blessings that He gives…Do we offer up genuine praise…Does our adoration pour from a true heart of gratitude…Do we bring to Jesus what He requires…Let us bow down before our Maker to worship Him in spirit and truth!!!
|9/24/2021||Revelation 1:18 “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.”|
Jesus is alive! In the middle of busy, complicated days, we often need a reminder. He lives to redeem our lives from destruction, to declare the good news, to heal the brokenhearted, and to deliver the oppressed.
Two thousand years ago, His enemies crucified Him at Calvary. But three days later, He rose – victorious over death, hell, and the grave. Because of Him, we boldly proclaim, “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” (I Corinthians 15:55)
After His resurrection, He walked the earth for forty days showing Himself alive “by many infallible proofs” (Acts 1:3). Then, He ascended into heaven to sit in power at the right hand of God. All angels, powers, and authorities have been made subject to Him.
And there He intercedes for us…He does not rest or sleep…He watches over us…He fills us up with His power and His presence…Whenever two or more of us get together in His name, there He is right in the middle…Take a moment to inhale the wonder of Him – as near as your breath…Close your eyes and see Him there at the Father’s elbow – continuing to plead your cause…All around us, He is at work…He lives!!!
|9/23/2021||Psalm 136:1 “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.”|
God is good, and He is worthy to be praised! Not just on the days when the sun is on our faces and joy bubbles in our hearts. Even on the days when thunderclouds congregate and grief drives us to our knees.
Paul admonishes us to give thanks in everything “for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (I Thessalonians 5:18). But how is it possible to live with sincere gratitude in an often cruel world? Notice that he says to give thanks in everything…not for everything.
In the big moments – the salvations, the graduations, and births – give thanks…In the insignificant moments – a morning kiss, the first tulip of spring, a shared meal – give thanks…When we consider our past, thank God that it led us to Him…On the days we are overwhelmed, thank God that He walks beside us…In the face of a pink slip or a frightening diagnosis, thank God that He holds every tomorrow…that He holds us securely in His hand…Our gratitude demonstrates our trust in a loving Father…Our hearts are fixed unswervingly on a God Who is good to us in every season…No matter the circumstance, we believe that He is working all things to our good for His glory…We give thanks with grateful hearts!!!
|9/22/2021||1 John 5:11-12 “And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”|
For those who profess faith in Jesus Christ, we should overflow with the life of Christ. Our pasts are washed clean by His forgiveness. Our present is filled with the joy of His presence. Our futures brim with hope.
In the Garden of Eden, God breathed life into Adam. After he bit into the forbidden fruit, we inherited death. But Jesus came to redeem our lives from destruction. We were dead in sin, but He came to dwell inside and breathe new life into us. We became new creations.
He has redeemed our lives from destruction and crowned us with loving kindness. Goodness and mercy follow us; the blessings of God chase us down and overtake us.
How can we not exude life if we are filled with The Life?
Jesus assured us that, for every person who chooses to believe in Him, rivers of living water will burst forth from their hearts…Jesus assured us that joy and exuberance cannot be contained…Allow yourself to be swept up in the river of the Holy Spirit…Splash that living water on those who are thirsty and long for life overflowing!!!
|9/21/2021||1 John 5:4 “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith.”|
After we prepare for conflict, we need to get ready for victory! No need to debate what God has declared. Every step brings us that much closer to His promise.
When God promised Jericho to the Israelites, He instructed them to march. Every circle around the walls gave them opportunity to prepare for victory. As they marched in silence, they must have remembered God’s faithfulness to them in the past.
If God delivered them from Pharaoh’s brick pit, He was well able to give Jericho to them. If He pushed back the waters of the Red Sea, He could surely topple these walls. If He could be a fire by night and a cloud by day, He could lead them to victory. Manna from heaven, water from a rock…God was with them, and He was for them.
With every lap, their faith grew. A shout was building. They believed that on the seventh day, when they lifted their hands, when their shout erupted, those walls would come down. Victory belonged to them!
As you march around your Jericho, get ready for victory…Rehearse the things that God has done for you in the past…Faith will bring down the walls to reveal His promise!!!
|9/20/2021||1 Peter 4:12-13 “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.”|
God sees us as victors! He expects us to win because He has already won the war. Before we are crowned as conquerors, though, we must prepare for conflict.
No one escapes this life without conflict. God gave Jericho to the Israelites, but after the walls tumbled down, the real hand-to-hand combat began. Victory was still assured, but they contended for the promise of God.
In today’s verse, Peter warned the church to expect the fiery trial – nothing strange about it. His next words were “but rejoice.” No whining in war, complaining in conflict, or bellyaching in battle! But rejoice!
If there is an enemy in front of you, rejoice that God is about to reveal His glory in you, and exceeding joy will break out. No one revels in a struggle, but we have this assurance: at the end of every conflict, glorious rejoicing awaits.
Do not fear the fight…Stand in the power of His Word and the authority of His name…The God that fights for you is greater than whatever fights against you…The battle belongs to Him!!!
|9/19/2021||1 Corinthians 4:2 “Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.”|
Focus and faithfulness go together like faith and works. Without works, our faith is dead. Without faithfulness, our focus fizzles.
An overwhelming lack of faithfulness exists around us. Temporary commitments abound. We find a world grown weary of doing good (Galatians 6:9). The moment that faithfulness runs up against discomfort, it fades.
True faithfulness is demonstrated in the difficult times. God desires a people who are faithful to read and obey His Word. He desires a people who pray continually – believing that He will respond. He wants a people who serve faithfully in even the small things. He wants a people who are faithful to bring their hearts to enter His gates with praise.
Faithfulness comes easily when life flows smoothly. But on the hardest day of your life, how do you remain focused and faithful? When trouble looms on every side?
You may not see the way through…Take one more step of faith…You may feel absolutely alone…Take one more step…When the darkness presses in, take one more step…Remain focused on the promise that He made to you…Remain faithful to take just one more step…He waits with hands outstretched on the path that He opens before you…He has not abandoned you…He is working everything out for your good…Take one more step…
|9/18/2021||Hebrews 12:1-2 “…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”|
When facing our personal Jericho, we have learned that we must work while we wait. We must be faithful. While we are waiting, we must remain focused.
We all begin with energy and expectation, passion and purpose. But what do we do when those things begin to wane in the reality of our situations? When every step looks the same? How do we plow through the monotony?
For the Israelites, the solution was to have a vision. They saw their destiny up ahead – full of the promise and potential that God had stored up for them. They made it through day three – not because of the idea that they would do the same thing on days four, five, and six – but because they knew that day seven held the promise of a shout!
Some lose focus because of the pain in their past…Some lose focus because of the problem in their present…Some lose focus because of the fear of the future…Let us fix our eyes on Jesus; He is the Author and the Finisher of our faith…He will lead us to the joy that He has set before us…
|9/17/2021||1 Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”|
When God gave Jericho to Joshua, it did not come gift-wrapped with a pretty bow set on top. Instead, God told Joshua, “You will march.” If the walls of Jericho were to fall, work was to be part of the equation.
The walls of Jericho fell…by faith. And since faith without works is dead (James 2:17), we see that work was holding faith’s hand. Everywhere faith is found in His Word, work exists right alongside it.
After God gave Joshua his marching orders, he rose early the next morning. He did not delay to do what God asked. He did not waste time whining; complaint is a restraint. He put the plan into action.
Joshua was not where he wanted to be…yet. He went to work right where he was. He knew that God was too wise to be mistaken and too loving to be unkind. He worked while he waited for the fulfillment of God’s promise.
We work while we wait…We march around the walls…We speak His truth…We extend His heart…We put our hands to the task before us…Every step of faith brings us one step closer to the shout of victory…
|9/16/2021||Hebrews 11:30 “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days.”|
The daunting walls of Jericho stood between the children of Israel and the Promised Land. If not for God, those walls were their mission impossible.
You may face the walls of a personal Jericho that are impossible for you to bring down on your own. But remember! God’s power begins where your strength ends. Even though every step of every lap must be walked before the wall crumbles, you walk by faith in a God Who makes the impossible possible.
Rather than analyzing the issue from every angle, choose to address your Jericho. You cannot change what you will not confront or finish what you are unwilling to begin. The victory of day seven only occurs after a first step is taken on day one. By faith, take the first teetering step that leads to freedom and laying hold of the promises of God to you.
One step in front of the other…one day after another we walk on by faith…When we march in God’s truth and in His way, a revolution of righteousness swells to sweep away the stubborn walls and carry us to victory…Our God makes the impossible our reality…
|9/15/2021||Psalm 34:19 “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.”|
As the Israelites prepared to take possession of the Promised Land, they stared up at the walls of Jericho. But in the middle of today’s difficult circumstances, God had some good news for Joshua.
As Joshua stepped into Moses’ leadership shoes, God assured Joshua that He was giving them the Promised Land. Every piece of land where Joshua’s foot fell belonged to him. No man would be able to stand before him all the days of his life. Just as God was with Moses, He was with Joshua. He would never leave nor forsake him.
As you march around your personal Jericho, be encouraged by the Good News. The afflictions of the righteous may be many, but the Lord delivers us from them all. If your heart is broken, remember that He has heard every prayer and has captured each tear in a bottle.
Weeping endures for the night, but joy comes in the morning. No matter your affliction – physical to financial – God’s Word contains 3,000 promises that apply to you. He keeps His promises from generation to generation, and He will not fail you.
No matter how many laps you have circled around your Jericho, if you are walking in obedience and making every step one of faith, your shouting day is coming…One day soon, a roar will erupt…Your shout will go up…those walls will come down!!!
|9/14/2021||Isaiah 52:7 “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, Your God reigns!”|
We live in a complicated, fast-paced world that threatens to overwhelm and rob us of the simple joys in life.
Remember not to ignore the Good News when dealing with today’s news. Do not allow God’s promises to be overshadowed by the Jericho that you face. Remember to rejoice in this simple truth: you woke up this morning!
Your heart beats in your chest because He has a purpose for you. He has not forgotten you, and He will never abandon you. He loves you deeply and unconditionally. He has a plan for you. Even when life is difficult, be assured that a good God still sits on His throne. He is faithful to fulfill all of His promises to you. He will provide everything that you need according to His riches in glory.
The situation might look complicated in front of you, but God is not confused…He knows the path that you take…He has gone before you to prepare the way…He has moved the mountains of impossibility…If you need wisdom, ask Him…If you need strength, lean on Him…If you need joy He will be the glory and the lifter of your head…Whatever you face today, do not forget the good news as you deal with today’s bad news…God is on your side!!!
|9/13/2021||2 Corinthians 5:7 “For we walk by faith, not by sight.”|
For forty years, the Israelites walked in circles in the wilderness. God planned to take them straight from Egypt to the Promised Land, but their unbelief and disobedience left them wandering.
Joshua’s first task in the Promised Land was to take another walk. This walk, though, was one of faith and obedience. When we walk by faith, we make progress. When we walk in our own carnality, we create work and frustration.
As we take another lap, our Jericho may be the same stubborn issue that needs to be solved, but something begins to happen. We are not the same people that we were on that last lap.
Every day, we are just a little stronger. We are just a little wiser. We are learning to lean more on a faithful God. His Word is growing in us. Our legs are stronger. Our faith is bigger. A shout is building in our lungs. Every step becomes one of progress when we walk in obedience to God’s will.
Even if our enemies scoff at us from the top of the wall. Even if they tell us how ridiculous we look. We are not walking blindly; we are in step with God Almighty. Just keep watching.
Jericho, He has given you to me…Jericho, He has promised me a victory…Jericho, your days are numbered…Jericho, you may be greater than me, but you are no match for the One Who lives in me…One step closer to victory!!!
|9/12/2021||1 Samuel 15:22 “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice…”|
God promised to give Jericho into the Israelites’ hands, but when they would have marched into battle, He had another idea. Let’s spend seven days walking around this problem before we solve it!
We want to make progress, but God walks us in circles. We want to surge forward, but God forces us to take another lap. Why do we get so frustrated when we know that there is a lesson in every lap?
Our perspective of progress is nothing like God’s perspective. We measure success when we see what we want. God measures success when we are willing to do what He wants.
We want God to bless our businesses; He wants us to recognize Him as our Source. We want God to bless our marriages; He wants us to submit to one another. We want God to stamp out our tempers; He wants us to practice self-discipline. We want God to erase our hasty words; He wants us to control our tongues.
The next time God waves you on to another lap, stay alert for the lesson to be learned and for the wisdom He will whisper…Your willingness to put one foot in front of the other is better than any sacrifice you might make…The Lord delights in your obedience as you take another lap…
|9/11/2021||Joshua 6:2-3 “And the Lord said to Joshua: See! I have given Jericho into your hand, its king, and the mighty men of valor. You shall march around the city, all you men of war; you shall go all around the city once. This you shall do six days.”|
If you have served God for any time at all, it goes without saying that His ways are not our ways. The path that He charts, the routes where He sends us are not normally the ones that we would choose.
Joshua must have felt the same way when God announced His plan to take down the walls of Jericho. Walk around the walls in silence for six days? What about weapons, battle strategies, and manpower?
In our spiritual lives, it often feels like we walk in circles around the same situations. However, God has built a lesson into every lap. When our common sense says that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, His is the path of righteousness.
We long for progress, but God gives us the opportunity to take another lap and learn another lesson. Our Jerichos are gifts – not burdens – so that we may witness the greatness of God and gain His wisdom with every step.
It might look like another lap, but God is leading us…He is growing us…He is demonstrating His goodness…When the walls fall flat, we will understand the lesson in every lap…
|9/10/2021||Psalm 68:1-2 “Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered; let those also who hate Him flee before Him. As smoke is driven away, so drive them away; as wax melts before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God.”|
When Joshua and the Israelites stood on the brink of the Promised Land, the intimidating walls of Jericho loomed between them and the land flowing with milk and honey.
What obstacles stand between you and the promises of God? Every one of us has cringed under the shadow of a stubborn wall. Whether it is emotional, spiritual or financial, they tower so high and so strong that trying to tear them down seems pointless.
Those walls that keep you from enjoying the fullness of God’s promise may be much higher and stronger than you, but they are no match for the God that you serve. He is higher and greater. He keeps His promises, and He tells us that we can do all things through Christ Who gives us the strength.
Your Jericho problem is no match for the Waymaker. Even if you must walk around the problem for a few days, He will walk beside you and whisper lessons in your ear that grow your faith and your determination.
That day will come when God commands, “Shout!” And with a voice of triumph and a roar of praise, the walls and the barriers in your life will fall down flat. Let God arise, and let His enemies be scattered!!!
|9/9/2021||Numbers 33:55 “But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it shall be that those whom you let remain shall be irritants in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall harass you in the land where you dwell.”|
Joshua and the children of Israel stood on the brink of the Promised Land. The land flowing with milk and honey that God had promised to Abraham spread out before them. And yet…
There towered the walls of Jericho – mighty and intimidating. Joshua did not wish to deal with Jericho, but God made it clear: drive out all of the inhabitants in Canaan. If any were left behind, they would become a barb in their eye and a thorn in their flesh.
Jericho is not a problem that comes out to attack us. Jericho is a problem that shuts itself in and challenges, “Get rid of me if you can!” It is an issue that digs in, prevents us from seeing the goodness of God, impedes our progress, and causes us frustration on a continual basis.
In the same way that Joshua had to confront Jericho, we must address the painful issues that seek to take root in our lives…We must seek God’s face… We must listen for our marching orders…We must obey them fully…We cannot allow strongholds to diminish our faith walk…Whatever that stubborn situation, it must fall in the face of the God that we know…His victory allows us to forge ahead into the promises that He has waiting…
|9/8/2021||Romans 8:31 “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”|
The book of John tells us that there is no truth in Satan. When he lies, he speaks his native tongue because he is the father of lies. How easily we fall prey to his accusations!
Today’s verse stiffens our spines and raises our heads though. When we find refuge in God, He comes to our defense. When we suit up in His armor, the fiery darts of the enemy fall powerless.
What shall we say when condemnation crouches with all its guilt and shame? God is for us. Christ bore our condemnation – along with our sin – at Calvary. No more condemnation for us!
What shall we say when old temptations whisper suggestively in our ears? God is for us. We are dead to sin and alive to the righteousness of Christ. The same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead rises up inside of us to help us resist the devil.
What shall we say when fear threatens to overwhelm? God is for us. The Spirit confirms that we are the heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ; all of Their sufficiency is ours.
God will turn the things that Satan intends for our harm to work to our benefit…Through it all, nothing will separate us from His great love…God is for us, and that makes us more than conquerors…
|9/7/2021||1 John 3:1 “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!”|
One of God’s most loving and enduring blessings to us is the gift of family. Through faith, we become sons and daughters of God – adopted into a diverse and loving family!
Membership in His family assures many benefits. We are always – fully and without question – loved by our Father. He gave everything that He had to adopt us as His own. In the household of faith, we are surrounded by brothers and sisters who love us with deep affection. We no longer are lonely strangers; we are accepted and beloved.
These brothers and sisters pray us to the finish line and celebrate our victories. They sit in the ashes with us when our hearts are broken. They gently admonish us when we wander off course. They offer hospitality and generosity when we are in need. They encourage us with songs, Scriptures, and wise words. We eat together, laugh together, grow together, and share our stories.
And when differences arise? We extend the same grace to others that Jesus lavishly pours out to us. We do not provoke others to anger, and we are quick to forgive. We insist that peace tie us together.
We are not created to go it alone…We are gifts to one another from our Father Who knew that we would need each other’s encouragement and love…Together, we are the King’s children and a family…
|9/6/2021||Psalm 90:17 “And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us; yes, establish the work of our hands.”|
Labor Day provides us the opportunity to honor the social and economic achievements of the American worker. Today, we pay tribute to the contributions that workers have made to the development, security, strength, and prosperity of our country.
As we celebrate, let us offer our gratitude to God for the gifts with which He has graced us in this country. Our Constitution names three inalienable rights available to every American: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Our national and personal freedoms allow us the opportunity to chase our dreams and realize our goals.
Thank God for the breath in our lungs, the strength of our bodies, and the sharpness of our minds as we set our hands to the work that He has provided for us…Thank God for the jobs He has given so that we can provide for our families…Thank God for the value and dignity that He places on the work that we do…As we give thanks to our Father and offer up every word that we say and every task that we complete in the name of Jesus, we become co-laborers with Christ to achieve amazing accomplishments in this world…May the beauty of the Lord be on us…May He establish the work of our hands…
|9/5/2021||John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”|
At the border of the cross, God sent His One and Only Son to draw all people – whoever believes – back into relationship with Himself.
“Whoever believes” is more than an intellectual acknowledgment because even demons know about Jesus. This type of belief involves commitment, confidence, and identification with Jesus that leads to trust and obedience.
When the Light of the world came, He shone a light on our sin – not to shame or humiliate us – but to bring us to repentance. God goes out of His way to interrupt our lives to save us with limitless, unconditional love. Like all gifts, we have to reach out to receive it.
“Whoever believes” means that He allows us the choice. He is not a master puppeteer pulling our strings and forcing us to comply to His will. At the Cross, He lovingly provided a way home. He held nothing back; He gave all He could give. Now, it is up to you.
If you will choose to believe, He will give you a brand-new life…If you will choose to believe, He will lift the weight of your burdens…If you will choose to believe, He will break the chains that hold you down…If you will choose to believe, He will heal your broken heart…If you will choose to believe, He will give you a home and a hope. Will you choose to believe?