December 27, 2020
Love Is Not Proud
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:4
Immanuel, God with us. Jesus, God incarnate, love in flesh. Love was born on Christmas day. Not in flashy pomp and circumstance, but in the black of night. Not in a grand palace, but in a lowly stable. Not with royals in attendance, but with only meager shepherds to behold Him. Love is a person. Love is Jesus. And love is not proud (1 Corinthians 13:4)!
What humility that the vast God of the universe, whose throne is heaven and footstool the earth (Isaiah 66:1), would shrink Himself down to a microscopic embryo to be with us! What selflessness that the omnipotent God, who spoke the world into creation (Genesis 1) and tells the seas how far they can go (Proverbs 8:29), would confine Himself to a woman’s womb and human flesh and bones! Love stripped Himself of the glory of heaven to be wrapped in strips of cloth and laid in a manger (Luke 2:6-7). Love is not proud!
Love grew to minister to the multitudes and help the hopeless, even while homeless Himself (Matthew 8:20). Ultimately, Love humbled Himself to death on a cross (Philippians 2:8) to save us, to make saints out of sinners. Jesus knew we could never make it to heaven on our own, so He literally made the way Himself (John 14:6). He lowered Himself to raise us up (Philippians 2:6-7; 2 Corinthians 4:14). Oh, love is not proud and Christmas is not over!
Jesus was resurrected and love lives on, making Christmas not simply a moment in time, but a forever moment. Love was born on Christmas day, so that we could be born again today. Immanuel, God with us. Love in us—yesterday, today, and forever.
Dear Lord, Love was born on Christmas day and born in me when I accepted You as my Savior.
Thank You that Christmas lives on everyday of the year, because love lives on eternally. ~ Amen
December 6, 2020
Love Does Not Boast
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast... ~ 1 Corinthians 13:4
Jesus is love. He is patient with us and kind to us. He does not envy, yet He is jealous for us. He longs to be first in our hearts and lives, not out of arrogance, but out of love.
Jesus is love. He does not boast—though He has every right to! Just think of all He has done! From creation to salvation, from the Garden of Eden to the Garden of Gethsemane, from the Mount of Transfiguration to the hill of Golgotha He has done great things! Every miracle a message, every sacrifice a song of His everlasting love for us. He makes the blind see, the deaf hear, and the lame walk. He provides for the poor, strengthens the weak, and comforts the widow. He gives peace in the midst of our pains, shelter in the midst of our storms, and triumph in the midst of our tragedies. He is “Wonderful Counselor, Might God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). He is the “HOLY, HOLY, HOLY…LORD GOD, THE ALMIGHTY, WHO WAS AND IS AND IS TO COME” (Revelation 4:8). He is “KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS” (Revelation 19:16). Jesus does and is all these and more, yet because He is love, He does not boast!
So how dare we? The truth of who Jesus is and what He has done strips us of all boasting rights. In light of all His mighty works and glorious deeds, clearly “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). “Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord’” (1 Corinthians 1:31), for He alone is worthy (Deuteronomy 10:21 NLT).
Dear Lord, You alone are great and You have done great things, yet You are “gentle and humble in heart” (Matthew 11:29).
You do not boast. Please keep me from boasting, except to boast in You. ~ Amen
September 27, 2020
Love Does Not Envy
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy... ~ 1 Corinthians 13:4
Envy is as old as Eden. Envy “to be like God” tempted Eve into eating the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3:5-6). Envy to have the Lord favor his offering incited Cain to murder his brother Abel (Genesis 4:3-8). Envy over “an ornate coat”, made by their father, enticed Joseph’s brothers to sell him into slavery (Genesis 37:23-28). Envy for Uriah’s wife, lured King David into adultery and murder (2 Samuel 11:2-17). Ultimately, it was envy that provoked the Jews to kill Jesus. “For he knew that they had handed Him over because of envy” (Matthew 27:18 NKJV).
The very definition of envy, “zeloo” in the Greek, “to have warmth of feeling for or against” implies a heating up, a burning, and when left unchecked, a boiling over. Envy is no joke. It is sin and it is deadly. When the sin of envy “desires to have you” and comes “crouching at your door” take the unheeded advice God gave Cain, “you must rule over it” (Genesis 4:7). How do you rule over envy? With love!
Love “does not envy” (1 Corinthians 13:4). Envy wants to horde all the glory and favor for itself. Love wants to put others in the spotlight and let them get preferential treatment. Envy wants the best properties, possessions, and positions for itself. Love wants the best for others, period! You cannot love someone and envy them as well. So next time someone you know and “love” gets the promotion you wanted; buys the car or home of your dreams; gets invited somewhere you are not, you might want to stop and check your temperature. Then choose not to boil over with envy, but rather fan the flame of love.
Dear Lord, Envy causes me to value myself above others, whereas love values others first. Grow me in love and thereby empower me to rule over envy in my heart and life, for love does not envy. ~ Amen
September 9, 2020
Love is Kind
Love is patient, love is kind. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:4
Hurting souls are everywhere. The vacuum of their need too deep and the cavern of their pain too wide to ever be filled, except by God. Since God is love (1 John 4:8, 16), one of the best ways to show God to the hurting is to “walk in the way of love” (Ephesians 5:1). However, in order to “walk in the way of love” we must know love; we must know God.
“Love is patient, love is kind” (1 Corinthians 13:4a). How interesting that these two attributes of love are joined together. Could it be because they are divinely connected? Hurting people need both. We must be patient with the hurting, for healing takes time. We must be kind to the hurting, caring for their needs, like the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37).
While patience is often quietly visible, kindness takes action. In the Greek “kind” (chresteuomai) means, “to show oneself useful, i.e. act benevolently” or “to furnish what is needed”. Kindness sees a need and does whatever is necessary to meet it. God is love and therefore kind. In fact, He expressed His “kindness to us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7), because our greatest need is a Savior and He has supplied us with One (John 3:16).
Hurting souls are everywhere. So, let us open our eyes to see the needs around us and be kind enough to meet those needs, as we are able. Of course, we must never forget the kindest thing we can do for someone is tell them about Jesus, for He alone can meet all their needs (Philippians 4:19). Oh, the kindness of our Savior, oh the kindness of our God!
Dear Lord, You have been so kind to me, please help me extend that kindness to others. First, by telling them about You.
Then by seeing their real needs and finally by meeting those needs in practical ways. ~ Amen
August 9, 2020
Love is Patient
Love is patient… ~ 1 Corinthians 13:4a
The believers call to “walk in the way of love” (Ephesians 5:1) has never been louder or clearer. In 1 Corinthians 13—the love chapter, we find a good gauge for how well we are walking in the way of love, for it tells us what love is and what love is not, as well as what love does and does not do.
The “love” Paul describes in the Greek is “agape”, meaning love in plural, “a love feast”. I love that! Don’t you? “Agape” love is God’s love. The first attribute of God’s love highlighted is “Love is patient” (1 Corinthians 13:4a). The Oxford Dictionary defines patient as “able to accept or tolerate delays, problems or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious.” Ouch!
We paid to have a deck built three months ago and it has not even been started yet. Have I tolerated the delay without being annoyed? NO! In fact, I had my husband contact the company and complain. He did. Still no deck. Lord help me, I am already stumbling on my walk of love, missing the very first step! How about you?
Scripture tells us it is better to be “a patient person than a warrior” (Proverbs 16:32). Patience is not easy, but it is part of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). Believer we have the Spirit, so we have patience! Many of us just need to exercise it more. God is so patient with us (2 Peter 3:9). How can we not be patient with others? This week when delays, problems, and suffering come let us remember, “Love is patient” and with God’s help be patient and thereby “walk in the way of love”.
Dear Lord, Love is patient, so if I truly desire to be loving, I need to be patient. Through Your Spirit I have patience.
Help me to put Your patience into practice today. ~ Amen
June 29, 2020
Walk This Way
Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself
up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. ~ Ephesians 5:1-2
It appears our country is being ravaged—from the initial panic of the Coronavirus pandemic to the current pandemonium of not so peaceful protests. From sea to shining sea tempers are flaring, voices are shouting, businesses are crumbling, and anxieties are rising. It is not hard to see America is in trouble, not just from the outside in, but from the inside out. Like me, you might be asking, “What can I do?” The answer, I believe, is found in Scripture.
The best thing we can do for our community, our country and ultimately the world is to “follow God’s example” right where we are, and “as dearly loved children…walk in the way of love” (Ephesians 5:1-2). This is no easy feat, because it does not come naturally. First, we must know God in order to follow His example. Second, we must know who we are in God, “dearly loved children”, in order to truly “walk in the way of love.” It is only when we believe and receive the love of God for us, that it is even possible for us to reciprocate it to others. The “way of love” is putting others so far ahead of ourselves we would give our lives for them. “The way of love” is sacrificial and supernatural. Therefore, apart from God it is not possible.
To “walk in the way of love” is to “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32). We will not do it perfectly, but we can do it purposefully. So today, if we really want to do something, let us purpose, with God’s help, to “walk in the way of love” towards everyone we encounter.
Dear Lord, You lead by example. You walked “in the way of love” first for You loved me so much You gave Yourself for me. Now Lord please enable me to “walk in the way of love” towards others, and thereby make a difference in some small way. ~ Amen
May 31, 2020
Promises of Hope
Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature,
having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. ~ 2 Peter 1:4
We all make promises. We all break promises. We do not want to or intend to, yet we often break promises to our loved ones, to God, and even to ourselves. Broken promises can break us. Oh, but promises kept bring with them life, joy and most of all hope. Scripture is filled with hundreds of promises God has made to us. Standing on the promises of God gives us unshakable hope, because God never breaks His promises. God is the consummate promise keeper (Joshua 23:14).
People have always needed hope, but perhaps now it is needed more than ever. Where do we find hope in the middle of crisis and chaos? We need look no further than God’s Word, which is filled with God’s promises. God promises He is always with us (Deuteronomy 31:8; Isaiah 41:10). When we stand on the promise of God’s presence, we have hope not fear. God promises He is always good (Psalm 84:11; Mark 10:18). When we stand on the promise of God’s goodness, we have hope not despair. God promises He is always victorious (1 Corinthians 15:57; Colossians 2:15). When we stand on the promise of God’s victory, we have hope not failure.
You see, God “has given us his great and precious promises so that through them [we] may participate in the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). If our hearts desire is to “participate in the divine nature”, let’s pick a few of our favorite promises to meditate on this week. When God’s promises take root deep in our souls, hope grows (Romans 15:13).
Dear Lord, Your promises have a purpose to enable me to participate in the divine nature. May I stand on Your promises today,
because I can trust You to keep them. Your unbreakable promises give me unshakable hope. ~ Amen
May 10, 2020
The Best a Mother Can Do
I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and,
I am persuaded, now lives in you also. ~ 2 Timothy 1:5
A mother’s heart wants the best for her children and strives to do what’s best for them. There are so many good things, we as mothers, can do for our kids. We can pray for them, like Hannah, (1 Samuel 1:27). We can protect them, like Jochebed (Hebrew 11:23). We can provide for them, like the wife of noble character (Proverbs 31: 15, 21, 27). All these things are good things for us to do.
A mother’s heart also wants to follow the wise words of King Solomon in Proverbs 22:6 to “Train up [their] child in the way he should go…” Wise and good mothers want to raise their children to be of Godly character. The Bible tells us one of the best ways to do that is to teach them the Ten Commandments, “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 6:7).
No doubt it is good to pray for our children, to protect and provide for them, as we train and teach them in the way they should go. But the best thing a mother can do for her children is to have a “sincere faith” of her own. When our children see us living out our “sincere faith”, right in front of them, it is wildly attractive (Acts 2:44-47). Timothy saw it in his mother, Eunice who saw it in her mother, Lois (2 Timothy 1:5). A life lived in “sincere faith” is the best a mother can do for her children.
Dear Lord, The best thing I can do for my children is to have “sincere faith” in You.
My prayer is that as I live in “sincere faith” before my children, the same faith will eventually live in them. ~ Amen
April 21, 2020
Prepared Hearts: Follow Jesus
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
~ Matthew 16:24
Easter has come and gone this year, but what Jesus accomplished in history will live on for all eternity. We serve the living God, thereby making His word, “alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword…” (Hebrews 4:12). We serve the living God, thereby making Jesus’ words to His disciples, in Matthew 16:24, as relevant to us today as they were to the twelve.
If we want to be true disciples of Jesus every day of the year, there are three things, we “must” do. First, we “must” deny ourselves. This means to lose sight of ourselves and our interests by “fixing our eyes” (Hebrews 12:2) on Jesus, who denied Himself for us. Next, we “must” take up our cross. This means to lift our sorrows and sufferings up to Jesus, who not only took up His cross, but died upon it for us. Finally, we “must” follow Him. In the Greek “follow” means “to be the same way with; to accompany”. There is also a sense of “union” between the follower and the One who is being followed. Scripture promises us that if we are united with Him in death, we will also be united with Him in His resurrection (Romans 6:5); if we share in His suffering, we will also share in His glory (Romans 8:17).
What glorious news! You see, if we have believed on the Lord Jesus, we have already been resurrected (Ephesians 2:4-5; Colossians 2:13). Plus, as believers, His resurrection power now lives in us (Ephesians 1:18-21)! Following Jesus is not easy, but it is so worth it! “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4:17).
Dear Lord, In this world I will have trouble, pain and suffering. Yet You promise that if I follow You through suffering, I will also follow You in resurrection. What power and comfort this gives me! Because of You, resurrection is my hope and my future. Praise Your holy name! ~ Amen
April 6, 2020
Prepared Hearts: Take Up Your Cross
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. ~ Matthew 16:24
Holy week is upon us, from the jubilation of Jesus’ Triumphal Entry to the glory of His resurrection. When the Lamb of God walked out of the tomb, He forever defeated sin, death, and the grave! What glorious news, especially now, when globally Easter will be celebrated, as never before, with our homes.
While the cause for our slowed pace and extended time at home may be dire and dark, let’s make the promise of this Holy week shine even brighter, as it gives us time to deeper prepare our hearts for the passion of Messiah. Preparing our hearts, according to Jesus, means taking up our cross. The cross is a symbol of pain and suffering and we all have a cross to bear. To “take up” our cross is to “raise up, elevate, lift up” our cross to Him, who was raised up on the cross for us.
When we “take up” our cross, lifting it up to Him, we find the weight of it bearable and strangely beautiful. The beauty of Jesus’ cross is that it redeems us. Likewise, the beauty of our cross is that it has the potential to make us more like our Redeemer.
Let us never forget the cross of Calvary was rightfully our cross to bear, but Jesus bore it for us. Therefore, when we learn to “take up” our cross, we will find ourselves willing to help others carry theirs. Truly, we share in His sufferings when we share in the sufferings of others (Romans 8:17). This Holy week let’s purpose not to fight our cross or even wallow in it, but instead “take up” our cross, so we are better able to help someone else carry theirs.
Dear Lord, Help me use this time to prepare my heart, by taking up my cross and lifting it up to You.
You bore my eternal cross for me at Calvary, so I trust You to help me carry my earthly cross now.
Help me so I can freely help others. ~ Amen
February 26, 2020
Prepared Hearts: Deny Yourself
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. ~ Matthew 16:24
The high, holy holiday of Easter is just around the corner. While my home church does not formally observe Lent, it has been my personal practice for years. As Advent is to Christmas, so is Lent to Easter. Both are ways of preparing our hearts for these sacred holidays, which are the foundation of our faith: the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Savior of the world.
What Jesus did two thousand years ago should command our time and attention. Instituting the New Covenant at the Last Supper Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19). We are to remember His body, which was given for us and His blood, which was poured out for us (v. 20). While we should remember this year-round, as Easter approaches, it is good to remember it more deeply and intentionally. One way to do that is to follow the edict Jesus gave His disciples in Matthew 16:24.
First Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves…” Deny, in the Greek, means “to lose sight of oneself and one’s interest.” So one way to deny ourselves is to set our sights or to focus on someone else.
When Jesus came to earth, He denied Himself a throne, to be born in a manger; the praise of angels, to be scorned by man; the power to save Himself, to be able to save us. Jesus denied Himself heaven, to be Immanuel, “God with us” (Matthew 1:23) on earth. In love, Jesus denied Himself and focused on us. So, as we prepare our hearts for Easter, is it not fitting to deny ourselves and focus on Him? He gave His all for us, that we might give our all to Him.
Dear Lord, You denied Yourself the glory of heaven, that one day I might experience it with You. Help me to deny myself and focus on You this Lenten season. May I prepare my heart to experience Easter as I never have before. ~ Amen
February 9, 2020
Because You Say So
Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” Luke 5:5
It did not make any sense to let down the nets, but because Jesus said to do it, Simon Peter did it (Luke 5:5). You see, he and his partners had fished all night. They were fishermen by trade. They knew what they were doing. They had tried, caught nothing, and this time the result could well be the same. Nothing!
However, this time Jesus was with them and they were following His directions. Simon Peter did what Jesus said, just because He said it, and the result was miraculous! They caught such a large number of fish their nets began to tear (v.6). They then called to their partners to come help, and in the end filled both boats so full they began to sink (v.7). Astonished at the catch of fish, Simon Peter fell at Jesus’ knees (v.8-9). When they returned to shore, they all left everything, including the big catch, to follow Jesus (v.11).
Oh, if only we would do what Jesus tells us, without any bartering or negotiation, but just because He says so, perhaps we too would see Him work miraculously in our lives. Our “boats” would likewise be so full, we could not help but fall at Jesus’ knees in worship, and leave everything to follow Him.
Listen. Is Jesus telling you to do something? Do it. Do not hesitate. Do it, even if it does not make any sense. Do it, even if it is something you have been working hard at and gotten no results. But this time take Jesus with you and do it because He says so. The results just might be miraculous!
Dear Lord, You give me direction through Your Word and through prayer. Help me to listen and to get busy doing what You tell me to do, just because You say so. Watching You work in my life, as a result, will be miraculous. ~ Amen
January 29, 2020
Only a Breath Away
God, the LORD, created the heavens and stretched them out. He created the earth and everything in it.
He gives breath to everyone, life to everyone who walks the earth… ~ Isaiah 42:5
In the beginning, God breathed into Adam the breath of life and he “became a living being” (Genesis 2:7). Since then God has breathed life into every person who has ever lived (Isaiah 42:5). Breath is life and when we stop breathing life ends—here. Death is grievous, for to lose someone you love brings unbearable pain. However, as believers, we do not grieve as those who have no hope (I Thessalonians 4:13). Our hope is in the Lord and in His promises (Psalm 71:5).
God has promised that the work of His Son on the cross and the empty tomb have defeated death and the grave (Hebrews 2:14). Because of Jesus, death has no victory, and we believers are victorious over it (1 Corinthians 15:55-57). Death is not the end for us, but rather a passage to a new beginning. Death is but a shadow that passes over us. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me…” (Psalm 23:4 NKJV). Death for the believer is to be absent from the body, but present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8).
That is one of the greatest promises of all for believers, eternal life, in paradise with our Savior (John 3:16; 14:3). When we breathe our last breath here, we breathe our first breath with Jesus. This is why, as they were both being crucified, Jesus told the believing thief, “Truly, I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). So, if you have recently lost someone you love, take solace in the promise that they are now with Jesus and only a breath away.
Dear Lord, There is a time to mourn (Ecclesiastes 3:4), for You even wept over the death of Your friend, Lazarus (John 11:35).
Thank You that even as the tears flow, there can be peace and comfort that our loved ones are with You. ~ Amen
January 15, 2020
Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ~ Lamentations 3:22-23
We all mess up. We all make mistakes. We all sin. Even major Biblical characters are not exempt. Adam and Eve disobeyed God (Genesis 3:6). But God “made garments of skin” and covered their sin and shame (Genesis 3:21). Jonah ran away from God (Jonah 1:3). But God caught him in the belly of “a huge fish” (Jonah 1:17). Abram and Sarai were impatient with God (Genesis 16:1-2). But God “was gracious” to them (Genesis 21:1-2). David broke God’s law (2 Samuel 11). But God kept His covenant with David and established “the throne of his kingdom forever” (2 Samuel 7:12-13; Matthew 1:6, 16-17). Peter denied God (Matthew 26:69-75). But God reinstated Peter with the command, “Follow me!” (John 21:15-19). Saul misunderstood God (Acts 8:1-3). But God showed him the way when a “light from heaven flashed around him” (Acts 9:1-9).
December 31, 2019
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”
Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” ~ Revelation 21:5
We love new. New is exciting for it holds the thrill of hope. The gift of a new year is a fresh start, a clean slate, another chance for good to triumph over evil. We wish one another a “Happy New Year”, hoping this new year will be better, happier than the old one.
God the Creator, specializes in making things new. Not just new in time, like a new year, but new in essence and in character. In other words, completely, utterly, totally new—something different from what it was before. In the beginning, the earth was without form, so God gave it form making it new (Genesis 1). Likewise, in salvation we become a “new creature” (2 Corinthians 5:17). What hope! What promise! When we are saved, we are not just dusted off and polished up, we are literally changed from the inside out, empowering us to “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). We ourselves are made new spiritually, and a new life is far better than a new year.
Better still is the promise that one day God the Creator will make a new heaven and a new earth (Revelation 21:1)! One without “…death or mourning or crying or pain…” (Revelation 21:4). “The wolf will live with the lamb; the leopard will lie down with the goat…and a little child will lead them” (Isaiah 11:6). Best of all God’s dwelling place will be with His people (Revelation 21:3). The mere thought of it should cause our hearts to rejoice and our eyes to look heavenward. Yes, a new year is coming bringing us ever closer to God “making everything new!” (Revelation 21:5)!
Dear Lord, Creator, maker of heaven and earth, thank You for making me new and for this new year to come.
Even more Lord, thank You for the promise that one day soon You will make everything new! ~ Amen
December 1, 2019
Christmas is "Coming"
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. ~ Micah 5:2
Stop! Stop for just a minute, now take a deep breath. Awww, isn’t that better? The holiday season has become hurried and hectic, rather than holy and heavenly. Often, in the frenzy, we neglect the real meaning of Christmas, losing our joy in the process. Black Friday has slithered into Thanksgiving, hastening us to fin big sales rather than count our blessings. Cyber Monday has many of us making our lists (on our Smartphones, of course) and checking it twice (a minute). This needs to stop! We need to stop!
The fact that Christmas is “coming” should calm us down, it should not stress us out; it should bring us peace, it should not bring us panic. After all the heavenly host proclaimed, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:14 KJV). The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is meant to be a time of preparing our hearts, remembering the real reason we celebrate. It is not presents wrapped in festive paper underneath a tree. No, it is God’s presence when He came to us as “a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger” (Luke 2:12). Born to die, to be raised again that we might live forever with Him.
Hence, the essence of Advent, which in Latin means, “coming”. Immanuel, “God with us” was, is, and always will be the true meaning of Christmas (Matthew 1:23). So, this year instead of just preparing your Christmas list, take the time to prepare your heart. If nothing else, challenge yourself to read one of the gospel accounts between now and Christmas Eve. Christmas is “coming”! Let’s prepare our hearts!
Dear Lord, I will never get or give a more perfect gift than You gave when our “Savior, which is Christ the Lord”
was born (Luke 2:11)! Thank You for this great gift. Help me give You my prepared heart in return. ~ Amen
November 17, 2019
Storms of Opportunity
and the boat was already a considerable distance from land,
buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. ~ Matthew 14:24
Life is stormy. So, with the disciples in the boat, in the dark, a long way from shore, waves and wind against them (Matthew 14:24), we can all identify. They were literally being “buffeted”, or in the Greek “tortured” by the storm. In other words, this storm pretty badly beat them up. The fight was real, hard, and painful. Surely, struggling against the pounding waves and whipping winds they feared this storm would be the death of them.
Ironically, the disciples found themselves facing one of the fiercest storms of their lives, while doing exactly what Jesus had told them to do (v. 22). Perhaps, that is precisely the point. Doing God’s will does not exempt us from the storms of life. Sometimes the storms are part of His plan, to give all of us the same opportunity Peter had—to walk on our storm. While the storm raged, Peter stepped out of the boat, fixed his eyes on Jesus, and walked on the turbulent waters (v. 29-30). Yes, it was a short walk, but Peter had a testimony none of the other disciples who stayed in the boat had. He walked on his storm!
My youngest daughter, Jaclyn just went through a stormy season, and she was like Peter. In the darkest part of the storm, she saw Jesus coming to her in small blessings that the howling wind tried to silence and the crashing waves threatened to drown. She walked on her storm, declaring in the midst of it, “I am blessed beyond measure” and soon afterwards the storm “died down” (v. 32). The question is, “Will we in worship look to the Lord, who empowers all of us to walk on our storms?”
Dear Lord, Storms can be opportunities that testify to
Your power and Your person. Help me to trust You in the storm, that You might empower
me to walk on my storm, all for Your honor and glory. ~ Amen
September 14, 2019
Singing in the Dark
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God,
and the other prisoners were listening to them. ~ Acts 16:25
Recently I got up while it was still dark, and as I sat in my sun room rocking I read these words by Oswald Chambers, “Song birds are taught to sing in the dark…” Chambers’ words struck me profoundly, as I sat under the soft glow of an overhead light, while outside darkness surrounded me. Watching the sun rise over the evergreens in my backyard, first casting shadows, then light on my lawn, I contemplated his words. Why, I wondered, do song birds sing at night?” (Acts 15:39).
Once the sun inched its way fully above the trees, I felt as if God gave me an answer. They sing in the dark because they know morning is coming! I opened my Bible to my passage reading for the day, Acts 16:25-30. Sometimes God just makes me smile! It is midnight, and it is dark in the inner cell of the Macedonian prison Paul and Silas have been thrown into after being falsely accused, severely flogged, their feet fastened in stocks. All in all it had been a very bad day. Yet there, in the darkness, melodious songs rose from the inner cell, and the other prisoners listened. The sound of singing must have given them hope.
The Northern Mockingbird sings different tones, notes, and sequences in sets of three, often switching to a new tune. The Common Nightingale’s repertoire can consist of up to two hundred songs. We do not know how many or what hymns Paul and Silas sang, but we do know the result was earthshaking (Acts 16:26). And when it was daylight the order came, “Release those men” (v. 35). No doubt Paul and Silas could sing in the dark because they too knew morning was coming.
Dear Lord, Teach me to sing in the dark, trusting that morning will come, as it always does.
Praise Your Holy Name! ~ Amen
August 25, 2019
A Sharp Disagreement (Part 2) - From Helpless to Helpful
“…Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.” ~ 2 Timothy 4:11
Mark (John Mark) was the reason Paul and Barnabas had “such a sharp disagreement that they parted company” (Acts 15:39). Paul refused to allow Mark to join his second missionary journey because Mark had begun as their helper (Acts 13:5) on the first journey, but then left them and the work. Instead of being a helper, Mark had proved himself helpless. Maybe when Paul looked at Mark that was all he could see.
Oh, but Barnabas! He could see in Mark what Paul could not. Therefore, he refused to go with Paul without his cousin, leaving no choice, but to part ways. Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus, while Paul chose Silas and went to Syria and Cilicia (v. 39-41). Possibly Barnabas saw in Mark the man who would become the writer of the second gospel and be a huge help to Peter and to Paul in their ministries. Yes, Paul!
Scripture is not clear when or how it happened, but Mark grew exponentially in his faith while ministering alongside Barnabas. Paul became aware of it and at some point his heart toward Mark softened, the rift was healed, and their friendship was restored. In Colossians 4:10 Mark is a “fellow prisoner” with Paul. In his final greetings to the church, Paul adds this caveat about Mark, “You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him”. In Philemon 24, Paul refers to Mark as one of his “fellow workers”.
Paul’s complete turnaround regarding Mark is evident in 2 Timothy 4:11, when he literally asked for Mark to be brought to him. Why? Because Mark had become “helpful” to Paul in ministry!
Oh, thank God for Barnabas, the encourager! Who can you be a Barnabas to today?
Dear Lord, Help me to be a Barnabas to those around me today. Please show me someone
specifically I can encourage for and in You. ~ Amen
A Sharp Disagreement (Part 1) - One Team, Two Teams
They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company… ~ Acts 15:39
Paul and Barnabas were one great team. They had completed their first missionary journey together (Acts 14:26-38), gone to a special council at Jerusalem together, and returned to Antioch together with a letter of good news that encouraged the Gentile believers (Acts 15:1-35).
After some time in Antioch teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, Paul had the wonderful idea of going back to all the towns where they had preached before to see how the believers were doing (v.36). There was only one problem—Barnabas’ cousin, John Mark. Barnabas wanted to take John Mark with them on the journey, but Paul “did not think it wise” (v.37-38).
Paul had a right to question John Mark’s commitment, because he had left them in the middle of their first missionary journey and “had not continued with them in the work” (v.38). John Mark had given up and gone home when things got tough and Paul was not impressed. In a way, Paul had now given up on John Mark, because he had given up on them. However, Barnabas, always the “son of encouragement” (Acts 4:36), could not give up on his cousin. It simply was not in his nature.
Paul would not relent. Perhaps he had forgotten that when the church in Jerusalem and the apostles had a hard time accepting him as a true believer, Barnabas stuck by him and vouched for him until he gained acceptance (Acts 9:26-28).
Barnabas would not relent either. One way or another John Mark was going. The result, “They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company” (Acts 15:39). “Barnabas took John Mark and sailed for Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and left…” (v.39-40). Now there were two teams.
Dear Lord, Thank You that Your Word is real and does not shy away from the short comings of believers—even giants of the faith. Help me to remember sharp disagreement is not hatred and that sometimes parting company
is the most loving thing to do. ~ Amen
June 30, 2019
Serving God's Purpose
Now when David had served God’s purpose in his generation, he fell asleep… ~ Acts 13:36a
It is common between Memorial Day and the 4th of July for our patriotism to be bolstered, as we remember those who have served and died to help make and keep our great country free. Thoughts of service and sacrifice are at the forefront of celebrations, parades, and gatherings to honor the fallen and the faithful. We know their deaths were not in vain and their lives were not without purpose.
Likewise, those of us who believe the gospel are enlisted in the Lord’s army (2 Timothy 2:3-4). We strive daily to fight the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 4:7) in a manner worthy of our calling. Each day we wake to see another sunrise, we are assured we have a purpose—God’s purpose. We also have a duty to serve our family, our friends and our fellow man.
We are not to be shabby soldiers, undisciplined and unruly. We are part of an elite force called to be the best soldiers, always alert and praying (Ephesians 6:18). Ready to complete the good work God has purposed in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10). While our own armor might have dents, cracks, and succumb to rust in spots, the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-17), which we are called to wear into battle, is always shiny, spotless, and divinely strong. It will protect us so that we might live to fight another day.
Members of our Armed Forces have good reason to be proud. Likewise, let us too walk with heads high and shoulders square, proud to serve God’s purpose in our generation, confident He will not permit us to fall asleep until our service is complete (Acts 13:36a).
Dear Lord, I am proud to be part of Your army and pray You will help me to be a good soldier today
as I represent You in my service to others. ~ Amen
June 9, 2019
Oh God, My Father
If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! ~ Matthew 7:11
Matthew 7:11 is bittersweet to me, because honestly my father did not “know how to give good gifts” to his children. Perhaps this is why nothing brings me to tears more easily, than seeing a loving father with his daughter. This is always so beautiful to me.
I was brought to tears recently at a wedding, by the playful and well choreographed father/daughter dance. The bride and her father beamed at each other, as smiles lit up the ballroom, while they danced.
Still a good father is not just there for the high points, like a wedding, but is present and available in the mundane and the messy as well. My earthly father fell short on both accounts, but my heavenly Father never does. In fact He often brings father-like figures into my life to show His fatherly love to me.
Several weeks ago, for example, I ran over wet yellow paint on the road which splashed into my driver’s side wheel wells and along the rocker panel. My friend’s husband noticed and suggested how I might take care of it. After a couple of weeks of me failing to do so, he graciously offered to do it himself. While I chatted with my friend, he got down under my car and labored to take the paint off.
That night as I prayed and thanked God for the kindness of this older gentleman, the Holy Spirit reminded me that God is my Father (Psalm 68:5) and the giver of “every good and perfect gift” (James 1:17). So if you have a good earthly father celebrate him, but if you do not, remember you do have a good, good “Father in heaven” to celebrate.
Dear Lord, Thank You for being not only a good and loving Father, but for being the perfect Father
and for bringing people into my life to show me Your great love. ~ Amen
May 12, 2019
The Perfect Mother
I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the LORD.
For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD... ~ I Samuel 1:27-28
There is no perfect mother—period. We all make mistakes when it comes to raising our kids, because honestly most of us have no idea what we are doing. All we know is that we have never loved more fiercely and never doubted our abilities and choices more continuously. Being a mother is hard, and no one is harder on mothers than we can be on ourselves. So when my girls, both mothers in their twenties, talked about mothers their age shaming each other I was stunned.
Formula or breast milk, organic or fast food, crib or co-sleeping, are these really the things that make or break a child? What about integrity, honesty, decency, character, manners, and respect? More importantly, what about spirituality and their relationship with God? No doubt mothers in the Bible would not have fared well in today’s society.
Jochebed hid her son, Moses, and then sent him down river in a basket (Exodus 2:1-4). Rebekah manipulated her son, Jacob to deceive his father in order to take his brother’s birthright (Genesis 27:1-40). Hannah prayed desperately for a son and then left him, as a young boy, at the temple to live (1 Samuel 1). Mary gave birth to her son in a stable and then laid him in a feeding trough (Luke 2:6-7), and then when he was twelve lost him for days (Luke 2:41-46). Each mother, a possible child abuser by today’s standards, yet each child grew to be used of God in mighty ways, from Moses delivering the Jews from slavery to Jesus saving the world from sin.
So mothers let’s give each other and ourselves a break. Let us do our best, love our children unconditionally, pray for them fervently, and trust God to make them what we never could.
Dear Lord, You and I both know I am not the perfect mother, but I could not love my child(ren) more.
Help me do my absolute best and trust You for the rest. ~ Amen
May 5, 2019
Easter is Never Over
With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all…
~ Acts 4:33
Easter is not over. Yes, the designated date on the calendar to recognize and celebrate the empty tomb has come and gone, but “the resurrection of the Lord Jesus” can and should be celebrated daily in the life of a believer (Acts 4:33). After all, we are a walking testimony of resurrection for “When you were dead in your sins…God made you alive with Christ” (Colossians 3:13).
Resurrection is a powerful thing and, for believers, it is personal as well. We should each be able to remember with exceedingly great joy and gratitude, where Jesus brought us from, to the place we are today. We know Jesus lives, we do not suppose, because He lives in us. Like Saul on the road to Damascus we have personally encountered Jesus and we are forever changed (Acts 9:1-31). Like the prodigal son we were lost, but now are found; we were dead, but now we are alive again (Luke 15:11-32).
Resurrection is not only powerful and personal, it is also joyful. This time of year is a constant reminder of resurrection. The dead brown ground watered by spring rain is coming to life again in vibrant shades of green. The barren trees are growing new life and leaves. Flowers, previously buried in snow, are blooming once again and reaching toward the sun. Even the thought makes us smile, because new life brings joy!
Today, if you are feeling dead inside, come to Jesus and let Him breathe new life into you. Then let us all, like the apostles, continue daily “with great power…to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus” because “God’s grace [is] so powerfully at work in [us]” (Acts 4:33). Easter is never over.
Dear Lord You are the one and only true and living God. I know the power and joy of resurrection personally, because You are alive, I too shall live! Easter will never be over, for Your resurrection is eternal and through it I am given the gift of eternal life. Praise Your holy name! ~ Amen
April 14, 2019
Cherishing the Cross
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. ~ Romans 5:8
The Old Rugged Cross by George Bennard (1873-1958), is a hymn with a chorus that can still bring me to tears. “So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, Till my trophies at last I lay down; I will cling to the old rugged cross, And exchange it someday for a crown.” I pray, as a believer, I will always cherish and never get over the cross.
This High Holy week, as we remember Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection, let us cherish the cross, for it is the grandest display of love we will ever know. It is a great act of love to sacrifice one’s life for another person (Romans 5:7). That is why we deem people heroes who do such things; but it is only God who has love enough to die for His enemies.
Jesus died as much for the soldiers who drove the nails in His hands, as He did for His apostles who left everything to follow Him (Mark 15:24 NLT; Luke 5:11); as much for the thief on the cross who hurled insults at Him, as He did the one who asked to be remembered (Luke 23:39-43); as much for the man who pierced His side with a spear, as He did for the woman who washed His feet with her tears (John 19:34; Luke 7:44). You see, at our very worst, God loved us enough to die for us.
That is why the cross should slay us with the love of God to the point we weep over and confess our sins and accept His grace and salvation. His salvation brings us new life, resurrecting us to live for Him here and ultimately with Him eternally in heaven (Romans 6:5; Philippians 3:10-11). So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross…Will you?
Dear Lord at Easter and always may I cherish the cross, for it is a symbol of Your love and my life eternal.
Thank You for the cross and for loving me at my worst, that I may live for You better. ~ Amen
March 31, 2019
"Omi" of Little Faith
…“You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” ~ Matthew 14:31
The faith of a child is amazing! Children believe and trust so easily, while we as adults are so prone to doubt. This was brought home to me in a sobering way. Recently my granddaughter, Scarlett, and I headed to the beach, with shovels and buckets, in search of treasure. She never doubted we would find some, while I wish I could say the same.
Her excited chatter magnified her faith, as doubt slithered into my mind. I prayed God would provide a treasure, but then doubted when we walked onto a beach of only sand and seaweed. I prayed harder and suggested we walk to the end of the beach where there were some big rocks. Surely God would help us find a treasure there in one of the tidal pools.
When most of the tidal pools held only fragments of shells, doubt hissed louder and escaped my lips, “Today if we don’t find a treasure at this beach, we can always try another beach, another day.” Scarlett’s faith never wavered, as she smiled and proceeded to climb the rocks. I followed and when I got to the top she was squatted next to a tidal pool. “Omi I found the treasure!” she exclaimed.
I saw nothing, but dug around with my shovel. “Not there, Omi, here!” She pointed to a cleft in the rock. I pushed my shovel into the crevice and saw a flicker of white. We looked at each other and giggled with amazement and delight when out came a big, brilliant, beautiful shell! Doubt had blinded me, while Scarlett’s faith enabled her to see and find treasure.
Dear Lord, Forgive me for doubting You, based on what I can see, and help me to believe You for treasures yet unseen,
for truly “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). ~ Amen
March 17, 2019
As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater: ~ Isaiah 55:10
Looking out the sun room windows at my snow covered backyard, with spring only days away, I have to smile. While I look forward to spring and all the blessings and activities it will bring, I am also a little sad to say goodbye to winter. Born and raised a southern gal, I never would have thought it possible! However, God has given me a wonderful friend who has taught me to enjoy every season of the year.
Yes, winter is cold and the days are short, but winter offers activities no other season can (Ecclesiastes 3:1). This winter has been full of great snow tubing, cross-country skiing, snow-shoeing, walks on the lake, and just recently snowman making. My granddaughter, Scarlett was eager to make a snowman after seeing a picture of “Happy Life”, the snowman my friend and I had made. Last week we finally had the opportunity and ended up making a whole snowman family! Walking back to the house hand-in-hand Scarlett squealed, “Omi, this was a dream come true!”
This week warmer temperatures and some rain have caused “Happy Life” and the snowman family to begin to melt away “watering the earth and making it bud and flourish” (Isaiah 55:10). You see, snow waters the earth as much as the rain does, and with the same result—green grass and beautiful flowers! Every year winter melts into spring, but memories made last a lifetime. A new season is on the horizon, let us go out and enjoy it for all it has to offer (Ecclesiastes 3:1), making lots of wonderful memories, and in the process giving us a “Happy Life”.
Dear Lord, Thank You for every season and the unique activities and blessings they bring.
Truly, You have “made everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11), including the seasons.
Help me to enjoy and appreciate each one. ~ Amen
March 3, 2019
Our Big, Big God
Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool.
What kind of house will you build for me? says the Lord… ~ Acts 7:49
We all have a picture of God in our heads. Your picture might be of God the Creator, larger than life speaking the world into existence and forming man in His own image (Genesis 1:1-27). Or perhaps your picture is more subdued and natural, God the Father walking in the garden at the cool of the day (Genesis 3:8). The truth is, no matter what our picture of God, He is so much bigger and so much more than our finite minds could ever conjure up.
If no mind can conceive “what God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9) how can our minds possibly conceive the vastness, the greatness of the God who has prepared such inconceivable things? God, in all His majesty, is just too overwhelming. While we cannot grasp the enormousness of God, I fear, if you are like me, that for the most part, we do not even try. That is erroneous, and we are the ones who suffer because of our mistake. No doubt when we do not take the time to even try to imagine the grandeur that is God, we relegate ourselves to serving a tiny version of God that fits into our easy imaginations. How sad for us.
What if we spent time this week contemplating and meditating on our big, big God who sits in heaven and rests His feet upon the earth (Acts 7:49)? To what unfathomable heights then does His head reach? Would we dare stand before such a mighty God, the Ancient of Days (Daniel 7:9-10) or would we fall on our faces in repentance, worship, and awe? Reading Acts 7:49 I am convicted that my picture of God desperately needs to be enlarged. What about yours?
Dear Lord, Today help me to take the time to ponder Your greatness, for in doing so I am humbled by my smallness
and hence more prone to repentance and worship than to petition. ~ Amen
February 17, 2019
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. ~ John 3:16
Valentine’s Day has come and gone, but God’s love is here to stay! Forget chocolates, flowers, and cards and remember God “so loved the world” that “he gave” his most precious gift—“his one and only Son” (John 3:16). We can and should make this truth personal. As part of “the world”, we are “so loved” by God, that “he gave his one and only Son” for us (John 3:16)!
Scripture makes it clear that what every person desires is unfailing love (Proverbs 19:22). The problem is there is no human being on this planet who can meet that need in us, for all earthly love falls short. I know, because as much as I love my family and friends, I fail them. I trust it is the same for you.
Many of us look for unfailing love in all the wrong places and people, finding ourselves disheartened and empty when it is not found. Therefore, instead of looking to our spouse, our children, or our friends for unfailing love, we need to look to God, for He alone can fill that desire completely, perfectly, and eternally.
Not only does human love fail, sadly, sometimes it can end or be lost. Betrayal, separation, divorce and death can take human love from us and we are left to grieve. However, for those who believe, nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:38-39). God’s everlasting love, once accepted can never be lost. So if this Valentine’s Day has left you feeling empty and unloved is it not time to believe in and embrace God’s unfailing and everlasting love for you? God wants to be your Valentine forever.
Dear Lord, Earthly love has failed me, but You promise me unfailing, everlasting love.
Oh God that is what I want and need. Help me accept it and believe. ~ Amen
February 4, 2019
The Family of Believers
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” ~ Galatians 6:9-10
It is always a blessing to be part of “the family of believers” (Galatians 6:10), especially when you are in need. Our daughter and her husband found themselves in desperate need, when they lost their furnace and van on the same day, right in the middle of the polar vortex! Having recently moved into their first house, being a family of four, money is tight. Our daughter called in tears over an exorbitant quote for a new furnace and I prayed as my husband tried to comfort her. As I was praying a young man, who is a member of our church family, came to mind. Before we hung up I suggested they call him.
Within minutes the young man called, letting us know he was on his way to inspect their furnace. On arrival he confirmed they needed a new one and hoped to have one at their house and installed by the end of the next day. He said his labor was free and they could work out the cost of the furnace later. Initially my son-in-law protested, but was silenced by the young man’s words, “You are on the praise team giving of yourself every Sunday. Now it is our turn to give back to you. Let me do this, this is my ministry.”
The next evening my son-in-law and husband helped the young man install the new furnace. Later as I sat in their warm living room, with temperatures still in the single digits outside, I smiled as the furnace kicked on. My body was warmed by the furnace, but my heart was warmed by the young man who was eager to “do good” to my family, simply, because we are all part of the “family of believers” (Galatians 6:9-10). Let us do likewise.
Dear Lord, Help me to be eager to do good to all people and not grow weary. Especially help me to do good to those who belong to the family of believers, because that is what family is all about. ~ Amen
January 24, 2019
The God of New Beginnings (Part 2)
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
~ Revelation 21:5
Our God is the God of new beginnings, both in the Old and New Testaments. The four gospels and Paul’s epistles are laden with new beginnings. Then Revelation culminates with the ultimate new beginning as God creates a “new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1).
Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector wealthy from dishonest gain, needed a new beginning. He found it when Jesus invited Himself to his home. (Luke 19: 5). Zacchaeus welcomed Jesus immediately and gladly (v. 6) and in the process became a new man. He vowed to give half his possessions to the poor and repay those he had cheated four times over (v. 8).
Saul, “A Hebrew of Hebrews” and a Pharisee (Philippians 3:5), also needed a new beginning. He was zealous “to destroy the church” (Acts 8:3), approved of the stoning of Stephen (v. 1), and imprisoned many others (v. 3). Saul’s new beginning came when he encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus. He was blinded by “a light from heaven” and Jesus asked, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” (Acts 9:3-4). Three days later Saul could see again and this time much more clearly, as “he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God” (v. 20).
God “is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). Therefore, He was, is, and always will be the God of new beginnings. He longs to make us new (2 Corinthians 5:17). He makes us new by turning our greed into generosity like Zacchaeus and by redirecting our misguided zeal like Saul. When we truly encounter Jesus He make us new, because He gives us a new heart, His heart!
Dear Lord, Even more than a new beginning You long to make me new by making me more like You.
Please give me Your heart for the poor and for Your church. ~ Amen
January 9, 2019
The God of New Beginnings
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
~ Revelation 21:5
God made everything (Genesis 1:1) and He is in the process of “making everything new!” (Revelation 21:5). He is the God of new beginnings. A new year is upon us and most long for a new beginning. If you are one of them, take heart and believe God can and will do something new this year. It is His way.
The Lord said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you” (Genesis 12:1 NLT). Abraham obeyed and went to Canaan. There God began the fulfillment of His promise to make Abraham the father of many nations (Genesis 17:4) through the miraculous birth of Isaac in Abraham’s old age (Genesis 21:1-5). Occasionally, a new beginning involves leaving what we know, for what is promised.
God said to Moses, “I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt” (Exodus 3:10). After being a shepherd for forty years, God gave Moses a new job. The job frightened Moses, because it seemed beyond him (Exodus 3:11). Still Moses obeyed and with God’s help did the job miraculously (Exodus 14:21-22). Sometimes a new beginning involves taking on a job that is beyond us, so that God gets all the glory.
The angel of the LORD called Gideon a “mighty warrior” long before he was one (Judges 6:11-12). God sees past what we are, to what we were created to be. Beyond calling us to go somewhere new, or do something new, God calls us to be someone new! Often a new beginning involves discovering a new part of ourselves. This New Year may we all experience a new beginning!
Dear Lord, Thank You for a New Year and for the opportunities that come with new beginnings. Help me to go where You tell me to go,
do what You tell me to do, but mostly to be who You call me to be. ~ Amen
November 27, 2018
The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
…behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour,
which is Christ the Lord. ~ Luke 2:10-11 (KJV)
It is fitting to begin “the most wonderful time of the year” by counting our blessings, for truly we all have much for which to be thankful. Thanksgiving is the perfect prelude to the Christmas season, for a grateful heart is open to the true message and miracle of Christmas.
The true message of Christmas is good news! We love to hear good news, and no doubt we could all use a little bit of it right now. One dark night long ago, the angel of the Lord declared the message of Christmas to a group of shepherds, “behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people” (Luke 2:9-10 KJV). You see the message of Christmas is not only good, and not only full of great joy, it is for all people. The message of Christmas is for every living soul.
The true miracle of Christmas is the “good tidings of great joy” declared by the angel “unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (v. 11 KJV). Jesus’ birth was meant to bring us great joy, for we are all in need of a Savior and God loves us so much He provided one. Luke 2:6-7 is the fulfillment of God’s promised Savior in Genesis 3:15. God always keeps His promises.
So this season, instead of allowing materialism to overshadow Christmas, let us remember what makes this “the most wonderful time of the year”. Ultimately it is the true message and miracle of Christmas that brings “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14).
Dear Lord, Christmas truly is “the most wonderful time of the year” when I remember
the true message and miracle of the season. Thank You for keeping Your promise and providing
Your One and Only Son to be my One and Only Savior. ~ Amen
November 11, 2018
A Good Soldier
Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs,
but rather tries to please his commanding officer. ~ 2 Timothy 2:3-4
A good soldier, if necessary, is willing to suffer for the cause, and lay down their life for it. A good soldier trains hard, understanding that one day their training could save their or someone else’s life. A good soldier follows orders, trusting their commanding officer’s instructions are best.
Marine Lance Cpl. Brendan Kelly is a good soldier. He credits his military training, and “God’s protective hand,” for helping him to survive two mass shootings. These shootings, both in a little over a year, were not on foreign soil or in enemy territory. No, they were at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada last October, and the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, California last week. Both times he not only survived, but helped others survive as well.
When shots rang out in Las Vegas, Kelly went into action getting his friend and several other people to safety. Likewise, after the first shots were fired at Borderline, he initially threw two of his friends to the floor, shielded them with his body, and then managed to get them, and a nearby woman, to safety through an emergency exit. Then he used his shirt and belt, as a make shift tourniquet, to stop the bleeding of his wounded friend.
Believers are soldiers, too. We are part of the Lord’s army and in order to be “a good soldier” (2 Timothy 2:3) we must be willing to suffer for the gospel, to train hard through Bible study and prayer, and to follow our commanding officer, Jesus, even to the cross. If we are good soldiers, like Kelly, God just might use us to “save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22) as well.
Dear Lord, These senseless acts of violence give tangible proof to the spiritual truth that we are at war
and the enemy of our souls, though already defeated, is no less real or formidable. Keep me alert and on guard.
Empower me to be a good soldier. ~ Amen
October 31, 2018
Generous with Jesus
Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” ~ Acts 3:6
Day after day it was always the same. At the time of prayer he was carried to the temple. Not to go in, but rather to sit outside the gate, always outside, and beg (Acts 3:2). It was ironic that the gate he sat at was called Beautiful, for nothing about begging is beautiful. In fact, he barely looked at the people passing by as he asked for their money. They never really looked at him either, but occasionally some would drop a mite as they walked by, never missing a step.
Peter and John were about to enter the temple court, when he asked them for money. They stopped and “looked straight at him” (v. 4). He did not notice them at first, too busy looking for the next set of feet, prepared to ask again. Peter said, “Look at us!” (v. 4) no doubt startling the beggar. Peter and John had seen him, now they wanted him to see them. Expecting to get some money from them, he now gave them his attention (v. 5).
Peter had no money to offer him that day, “Silver or gold I do not have” (v. 6). What Peter had was even better! He had Jesus and he would gladly share Him with the beggar, “but what I do have I give you” (v. 6). How often do we fail to see the people around us in need? Or ignore the need because we do not believe we have anything to offer them? If we have Jesus, we have all they need. Sharing Jesus with them could change their life—just like it did this beggar’s. That very day he entered the temple courts with praise (v. 7-8)!
Dear Lord, Help me to see the need in front of me. Empower me to offer the greatest gift I have to meet that need and that is You. ~ Amen
October 15, 2018
To every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born… ~ Ecclesiastes 3:2
My heart jumped when Jaclyn called me early the morning of the Lord Teach Us to Pray conference at our home church. She was thirty-six weeks pregnant with her second child. Her first, Elijah, just 19 months old, had been a preemie. I answered the phone with a question, “Are you okay?” She assured me all was well. The night before I had dreamed she went into labor in the middle of the conference and I kept asking the Lord to please wait until the end of conference.
When I got to the church it was already a flutter of activity. Jaclyn and my oldest daughter, Kaitlyn were manning the book table. I only had a minute to greet them before the conference began. The music had just started when Kaitlyn touched my arm and whispered, “Mom, Jaclyn is in labor. We are going to the hospital.” Then she was gone. Shocked I barely heard my introduction. Dazed I made my way up front, announced the good news to the ladies, said a prayer, and with God’s help presented the first session.
During break I got news Jaclyn was safely at the hospital and already six centimeters dilated. Session two began with the update on Jaclyn and another prayer. In closing, I looked at the clock as I called the women into personal prayer. It was 12:50 pm. I sat on the stage and bowed my head, but the Lord quickly brought me to my knees as I prayed for my baby having a baby without me. Later I got the news that Magdalene Mikelle Disla was born at 12:51 pm--while I was on my knees. Talk about God’s perfect timing!
Dear Lord, Your ways are perfect and so is Your timing. Help me to trust Your timing even when it is not my own. ~ Amen
October 2, 2018
An Opened Mind
Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. ~ Luke 24:45
You should have an opened mind! This sentiment is often attached to cultural ideologies in hopes of change. However, what about having an opened mind in regards to the Bible? Imagine if Jesus opened the minds of all believers, “so they could understand the Scriptures”, as He did His disciples in Luke 24:45. No doubt, the world would never be the same!
Hopefully, we have all had moments while reading a familiar verse or passage of Scripture when suddenly the light comes on, our minds are opened, and we understand something new and fresh that we never have before. Such moments are invigorating and testify to the fact that “the word of God is living and active” (Hebrews 4:12). Often when we understand something new in Scripture we feel the need to share it with others. That is because, in those moments, it is as if God Himself has opened our minds—just like He did the disciples (Luke 24:25).
It is the desire of God’s heart to reveal Himself to us. “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3). In fact, David declared, “The LORD confides in those who fear him” (Psalm 25:14). Furthermore, Jesus promised His disciples that the “knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you” (Matthew 13:11). How amazing that God longs to share His secrets with us, His creation! Yet that is exactly what He has done through His Word!
So this week, as we open our Bibles, let us pray for the Lord to open our minds to “understand the Scriptures” and then trust that He will!
Dear Lord, Please open my mind to the Scriptures so that I can understand great and unsearchable things I do not know,
the secrets of the kingdom of heaven written in Your Holy Word. ~ Amen