Wednesday, November 30, 2016



Psalm 91:1-2              
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

            It was just a few days before my oldest daughter’s second birthday. Our young family went to the local mall to shop. IN one of the nicer department stores, I told my wife to go to the women’s dresses while I took the kids to the toy store. Before we could get out of the store, I ran into some old friends and began to carry on a conversation with them while my two oldest children played near the escalator.

            This was an unusual escalator. No safety devices surrounded it. It was simply out in the middle of the floor. My oldest daughter began jumping toward the moving guardrail in an attempt to catch it for a “ride up to the top”. After several unsuccessful attempts, she succeeded. And before I knew it, she was gliding up to the second floor on the outside of the escalator, hanging on for dear life.

            By the time I saw her, she was already a third of the way up. I stopped everything and bolted for the escalator. Taking two steps at a time, I tried to get to her hand in order to pull her over to my side before we reached the top. Just as I was able to reach her arm, gravity took its course. She fell approximately twenty-five feet to a granite tile floor. Screams from the shoppers nearby signaled that something horrible had happened. I finished the ride to the top, and then came down the escalator to get her, thinking the most terrible thoughts imaginable. A mountain-sized trial formed in just seconds.

            Good News! Only two sprained ankles! We knew God defended her from deadly harm. And in the process, we saw that He’s our great protector. In times of intense trial, we can rest safely in the shadow of his protective care no matter where we go.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016



James 1:2-4    
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

            Everyone comes to supper on time when my wife cooks the food in the crock-pot. It doesn’t matter what she’s fixed for us to eat. It’s always good. There’s something about slow cooking an seasoning that makes roasts, chicken, stews and other dishes delicious. Time along with heat, steam and pressure makes food tender and scrumptious.

            It seems that our world wants crock-pot quality in microwave time. Think about it – all of us want something quick to fix that tastes delicious and that’s nutritious to eat. But we want it now at all costs. If you don’t believe me, check out the frozen food section of your grocery store. Many foods are already prepared and cooked. All you have to do is nuke it in the microwave for a couple of minutes and voila!  It’s done.

            God doesn’t work on the microwave timetable. His product comes on a crock-pot schedule. It takes time to build Christ-likeness and perseverance in the Christian life. These qualities don’t come overnight. They develop through testing, trial and time.

            When life’s pressure cooker is turned on in our lives, it’s hard to see the befits at the end of the road. Yet it’s important to know that all the biblical values that God wants to build in us (hope, joy, peace, faith, love, etc.) add up to one great product – maturity in Christ. The Lord wants us to be whole and complete, not lacking anything (James 1:4). His purpose in trials is to take us through his process so that his product will come. So if you sense that you’re in God’s crock-pot today, ask yourself, “What’s the Lord cooking inside me?” Whatever it is, it’s going to be rich, tender and good!

Monday, November 28, 2016



Romans 5:3-4           
   Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.

            One day my youngest daughter found a caterpillar’s cocoon nestled in the branches of one of our azaleas near the bedroom window. We put the thumb-sized shell and the small branch in a jar, sprinkled some grass clippings in the bottom and waited for it to hatch. Days later as I mowed the back yard, we saw signs of new life emerging.

            Only one word adequately depicted the process – struggle. It appeared that this creature was doing everything possible to get through that tiny hole in the shell. A close look at its face gave me the impression that it was in complete agony and pain. What once was a haven of protection was now a prison to escape.

            At times a streak of sympathy entered our minds. After all, who wants to watch anything suffer? Although we were tempted on more than one occasion to get a razor-blade to release it from its agony, no one went to get it. So the creature anguished before a public audience. However to our wonder, a beautiful butterfly emerged and flew away to freedom. And struggle was the process that liberated the creature to new heights.

            Paul reminded the Roman believers who were undergoing sever trials in their day to remember the process God uses to build faith and hope into their character. Suffering humbles us and makes us look to God for help and endurance during the trial. So when struggle strikes deep within us, see how God uses it to build his values in our lives. It’s part of his plan to supply grace to help us in our time of need (2 Corinthians 12:7-9). Like Daniel and his friends in the furnace (Daniel 3:22-29), remember God’s process. If you can’t take the heat, stay in the kitchen anyway. It’s for our good.

Sunday, November 27, 2016



Philippians 3:13-14   Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

            In my early high school years, I competed on the track team and participated in the shot put and discus competition. I never medaled in an event, but enjoyed the setting of a track meet. Once in a while, the shot put and discus groups were invited to compete in a “weight man’s” relay at the end of the running events. I’ll never forget the first time I did this. I was nervous. As the second leg in the four-man race, I just wanted to give a respectable outing. Anything less would be embarrassing to me and to my team.

            One day we competed against our arch rivals across the river. There was a history of “bad blood” between the two schools and athletic events brought out that passion. Because the score was tied, officials decided to have a weight man’s relay at the end of the meet. I distinctly remember that twenty yards past the finish line stood a table upon which the event trophy sat for the winning team. The person running the last leg of this race could see the trophy as he turned the corner to the finish line. I said to myself as the gun sounded, “This is a powerful incentive to give it your all.”

            At this stage in my life, I don’t remember who won the race. However, I learned a greater lesson that day. In the race of faith (Hebrews 12:1-2), we’re encouraged to run with perseverance and focus. Sometimes in life it’s hard to think about the finish line when we’re hurting and distressed. But God wants us to stretch forward by faith. There’s a prize awaiting us. Give Christ your best right now. Run with Hebrews 10:35 in mind, “So, do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.” Go for it!

Saturday, November 26, 2016



Jude 24         
Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy.

            I love officiating at large family weddings. There’s nothing more exciting than to watch a beaming father present his lovely daughter down the aisle at the start of the ceremony. There’s a look in his eyes and in the faces of the gathered audience that’s beautiful. It’s a highlight of the wedding in my mind. At that moment, no one is happier to show off his girl than the daddy.

            When we come to the Scriptures, we find great comfort in knowing that Christ wants to present us to the Father in a similar way. Not only does he want to keep us strong until the end (1 Corinthians 1:8), but also he wants to escort us before his Father’s throne when we reach the end of our spiritual pilgrimage. And when he presents us before his glorious throne, the host of heaven admires our garments of Christ’s blood and righteousness. Then as the Father sees his Son’s sacrifice and purity clothing our lives, he says with bod satisfaction, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21).

            The thought that Christ will lovingly present us to the Father one day can give us enormous encouragement today. Knowing what awaits us at the end helps us to persevere now. God has some incredible things prepared for us (1 Corinthians 2:9). And the joy at the end will far outlast any trials and heartaches that can happen to us at the moment. Temporal sorrows come in the night, but eternal joy awaits us at dawn.

            Dear friend, are you hurting today? Do troubles and grief perplex you? Take delight in knowing that your escort to heaven’s throne is waiting for you at the end of the journey. And he wants to show you off to his Father. That’s phenomenal.

Friday, November 25, 2016



Exodus 19:5-6            
Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.

            These words that the covenant people of Israel received are just as meaningful for us today as we stand in bonded relationship with God. The Israelites had experienced terrible trials and slavery in Egypt for four hundred years. They endured many dark nights of despair and discouragement. Yet when the Lord promised blessing and led them out of captivity through Moses, he didn’t minimize his standards. He insisted that the main prerequisite for receiving the blessings of that covenant relationship was total and complete obedience. He was sympathetic and compassionate toward their suffering and plight, but his standards for obedience never wavered. Obey him and receive the blessings of the relationship. Disobey and experience his displeasure and chastisement.

            When you’re going through a rough time in your life, it’s easy to dwell on your own plight and to forget the demands that God insists for your daily walk. Stay focused on him. Continue to obey his Word and understand how important obedience is in his prerequisites for growth in grace. Jesus taught that our love for him showed itself by the way we follow his commandments (John 14:15). With this in mind, how’s your obedience level today? In your time of trouble, is it easy or difficult to follow the Lord?

            Simply trusting every day, trusting through a stormy way;
     Even when my faith is small, trusting Jesus – that is all.

            Singing if my way is clear, praying if the path be drear;
                 If in danger, for him call, trusting Jesus – that is all.

            Trusting as the moments fly, trusting as the days go by;

     Trusting him whatever befall, trusting Jesus – that is all.

Thursday, November 24, 2016



Ephesians 1:14          
[The Holy Spirit] is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

             A more literal way to translate this significant verse is to say that the Holy Spirit is an “earnest” that guarantees us the riches of our redemptive inheritance in Christ. If you’ve ever purchased a home, you know that the buyer uses “earnest money” to secure commitment to the purchase of that property. An earnest signifies an up-front obligation to meet the conditions of the contract and to complete that promise at the specified time with the remaining financial resources. In other words, a portion goes down now to guarantee final ownership later.

            What a beautiful picture of our salvation in Christ. Believers, we were bought with the precious and powerful blood of Christ in love (1 Peter 1:18-20). To seal that redemptive transaction, God marked us with the seal of his Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14, 4:30). That mark guarantees God’s ownership of us. By his wondrous grace, he devised a way to let the world know that we belong to him. Today, people can know that we’re forgiven, adopted, empowered and contented people, all because of the Spirit’s mark and seal upon our lives. Our life in the Spirit shows that we’re God’s possession.

            Dwell on this thought today: I belong to Christ. He owns me because of the sacrificial payment of his Son at Calvary. And because he’s in the spiritual management business, he’s always looking to upgrade and to improve his property. That means that as his possession, all the riches of heaven are at his disposal in me. Think of it – the inestimable glories of eternal life belong to me because God possesses me. No matter what trial and trouble I’m facing, the knowledge of this truth can get me through it.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016



1 Corinthians 12:26        
If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

            One way people frequently respond to hardships, trials and troubles is retreat. Many run away and isolate themselves from the church and from friends who can help them. If you’re a professing Christian, the Bible says you’re a part of the Bod of Christ. God has provided other believers so that you can receive comfort, support, guidance and prayer in your times of trouble and pain. Are you using your brothers and sisters in Christ or are you living in a shell?

            Sometimes people live in isolation because of embarrassment. On other occasions they retreat because they fear what others will think of them and their predicament. Whatever the case, we’re exhorted in Scripture to “bear one another’s burdens and in so doing to fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2, Ephesians 4:2, Romans15:1). That means God’s people in your church should take the initiative to help those who are hurting in the family of faith.

            Sometime soon, take your Bible concordance and discover the number of verses that begin with the exhortation, “Let us”. The list is impressive. Here are some of them:

·       Let us love one another, for love comes from God (1 John 4:7)
·       Let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth (1 John 3:18)
·       Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24)
·       Let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong in the family of believers (Galatians 6:10)

            If your heart is troubled and overwhelmed today, don’t bear these burdens alone. God has formed the Body of Christ to help you. Let Jesus show his love to you through them.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016



Matthew 11:28           
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

            Family vacations always present a challenge, especially when it comes to loading everyone’s belongings into the minivan. “Over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house: can be a stressful experience. There’s too much baggage. My son and I want to pack our golf clubs. The girls want to take their “things” and my wife always gets stuck with packing the cooler with drinks, snacks and medicine along with her sewing and quilting projects. Often I wonder if we can get in the car after all the baggage gets loaded. There’s not much, if any, room left. That stuff is bulky and heavy.

            Airports are the best place to observe people with baggage overload. Oftentimes the smallest people have the biggest bags. When you watch how they attempt to walk while they balance these loads, you wonder if they’ll make it to the gate on time.

            I think these kinds of experiences remind us how heavy and oppressive we make our lives at times. We carry far too many burdens we were never meant to bear. Some of these loads come from bad personal decisions in the past. Others are produced from the pain and heartaches we feel from the lives of those we love. These burdens are heavy, overbearing and troublesome, keeping us from walking in freedom.

            What baggage is taxing you today? Are you shouldering a load that needs to be removed? Listen to Christ’s loving plea, “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden”. Peter encourages us to cast all our troubles and cares upon Him (1 Peter 5:7). Our gracious God specializes in load lifting. He wants each of us to experience his offer of rest and freedom. But the decision is ours. Will we come to him?

Monday, November 21, 2016



Proverbs 3:5-6           
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

            In my younger years, I enjoyed hiking in a Southwestern Virginia state park when our family went on summer vacation. Park rangers led interested hikers on a number of scenic foot trails several days during the week. One time I went with a newly made friend on the Bear Falls Trail, a rough 4.2 mile trek that demanded participants to be in top physical shape. There were steep climbs, narrow passages and swift temperature changes associated with this path. It was not for the faint of heart.

            I distinctly remember that day how two rangers led us on the journey. While one knew the trails implicitly, the other was starting his first day as a new employee. He had never been on the trail, but acted with confident arrogance as if “he knew it all”. Shortly into the journey, it became clear that a conflict of interest was surfacing. Were we going to trust a seasoned veteran, or this young whippersnapper oozing with pride?

            Soon a choice was presented to our group. Our team could go with the young fellow on a newer path while the remaining number could stay with the other guide on the traditional slopes. To our surprise, more than half went with the new guide; however my friend and I chose experience over youth. That paid for itself in the end as our team saw more scenic sites and, more importantly, got back to the lodge on time while the other team got lost and didn’t return until after dark.

            We learned an important lesson that day. Many trails mark our journey in life. Some are steep and filled with challenge. But the key to a successful trip lies in the guide. Christ offers us his direction through God’s paths. Will you acknowledge him?

Sunday, November 20, 2016



1Corinthians 2:9        
“No eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”

             Everyone needs hope regardless of age, occupation and education – or lack of it. Take away a person’s hope for a brighter future and you sap their motivation for living. That’s why the Bible regularly reminds those of us who know the Lord that we have a great future in light of the loving promises of God. 1 Corinthians 2:9 is just one of many texts that tell us God’s incredible plans that await those who love him.

            But what is God preparing? What are some of the promises that make up our hope in Christ? First, look at some of the things God is preparing to do to us. He will resurrect and transform our bodies to the likeness of Christ’s body (Philippians 3:20). He will redeem our bodies at the final adoption (Romans 8:19, 23). He will glorify himself in us on the final day and throughout eternity (Romans 9:23-24). And, he will make us rulers and priests in his kingdom (2 Timothy 2:11-12).

            Now if this grace isn’t amazing enough at this point, look at some of the things God is preparing to do for us as a part of our hope in Christ. He is preparing to present Jesus in all his glory (1 John 3:2b-3). He is preparing a heavenly home for us (John 14:2). He is preparing an unfading inheritance that can never perish (Colossians 1:12, 3:23-24). He is preparing to unite us again with our saved loved ones (1 Thessalonians 4:17b). And, he will unite all things in heaven and on earth under Christ (Ephesians 1:9-10).

            Take heart, dear friend. The road may look dark and murky at this point, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Look up and know that at this very moment, God is preparing something that includes you. O how great is his love for us!

Saturday, November 19, 2016



Matthew 6:33             
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

            Walter Stillman Martin was a gifted Baptist evangelist and popular conference speaker at the turn of the twentieth-century. Born during the Civil War and educated at Harvard, he married Civilla Durfee and the two of them traveled actively across the country to participate in a number of significant evangelistic campaigns. During their journeys, they combined their writing and musical abilities to produce a number of gospel songs that have provided encouragement and inspiration to Christian through the years.

            In 1904 while working several weeks at the Practical Bible Training School on a songbook, Dr. Martin accepted an invitation to preach at a church some distance away. Shortly before he was to leave, Mrs. Martin became suddenly ill, forcing the gifted preacher to consider canceling his trip. Persuaded by his son that God would take care of his wife while he preached, Martin kept his preaching engagement. That day, church attenders remarked how God blessed the service in greater measure than normal. Upon returning to his wife, he was encouraged not only to find her health improved but also to hear this poem penned to honor their son’s expression of faith earlier in the day:

 Be not dismayed whatever transpire, God will take care of you;
Beneath his wings of love abide, God will take care of you;

All you may need he will provide, God will take care of you;
Nothing you ask will be denied, God will take care of you.

God will take care of you, thru every day, o’er all the way;
He will take care of you, God will take care of you.
                (Kenneth Osbeck, 101 More Hymn Stories, Kregel, 1985, p.106)

Take heart, dear believer. God has promised to take care of us if we’ll seek his kingdom first. Stop worrying about daily things. He already knows what we need. 

Friday, November 18, 2016



Romans 8:31             
  What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
            One of my all-time favorite accounts in the Bible is the battle between David and Goliath. Humanly speaking, all the odds were against the young shepherd boy form Bethlehem. After all, who could stand up to a nine-foot giant? Even today’s pro boxers and wrestlers can’t match his bul today. His size, strength and shield were unbeatable.

            But human inability allows God to specialize. This young lad possessed one thing that everyone else lacked – the knowledge of God’s promise of victory over Israel’s enemies. No doubt David read the words of the Law that commanded the Israelites to drive out the wicked nations who worshipped foreign idols and Asherah poles (Deuteronomy 7). He also remembered from Joshua’s campaigns that only a few of the Anakites (giants) survived and lived in Philistine territory (Joshua 11:22). So when he saw the Philistine champion and realized that he was from Gath (1 Samuel 17:4, 23), he quickly concluded that he was simply facing a descendent of an old enemy that God wanted and promised to defeat. The knowledge of God’s Word that promised victory shot him to the front lines of battle. After all, he was saying to himself, “God has already given me the victory in his Word! I need nothing else to win the battle. I can’t fail!”

            There are scores of promises in the Bible for us to claim; however none are more powerful than Romans 8:31. God has already gone on record. If you’re in Christ, no power in heaven or on earth can stop the omnipotent progress of the Lord Almighty in your life. You’re united to Christ. Believer, take this promise to heart – God Is For You! The victory is your right now. Your biggest enemies are already defeated.

Thursday, November 17, 2016



Genesis 50:20                         
As  for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.

            In the midst of pain and confusion, there’s great comfort in studying the life of Joseph. Think of all the things that happened to him. His brothers hated him because of their father’s discriminate love and his self-proclaimed prophetic dreams (Genesis 37:3, 5-9). When he journeyed on Jacob’s behalf to check on the status of his brothers and their sheep, they captured him, sold him into slavery to a band of Ishmaelites traveling to Egypt, then fabricated a fairy-tale story to convince their father that their younger brother was killed suddenly (Genesis 37:19-35).

In Egypt, while serving successfully in the chief captain’s house, Joseph was deceived by the Egyptian’s wife who lied to her husband about an action that he never did (Genesis 39:7-18). This cost Joseph his job and his freedom, as Potiphar sent him to jail. But while in prison, “The Lord was with him; he showed him kindness…” (39:20b). From this position, God’s grace would enable Joseph to interpret correctly the dreams of the cup-bearer and the baker (Genesis 40), then two years later for Pharaoh (41:1-36) who rewarded Joseph’s wisdom by appointing him chief administrative officer over all Egypt (41:37-40). God positioned Joseph to help his family in a time of great famine (42 – 50).

            God’s intentions are always good. At times we may not understand the movements of his hands, but we can always trust the intentions of his heart. Look at Joseph’s life. Betrayed. Imprisoned. Rejected. Yet through it all, God had a purpose.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016



Romans 8:28               
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

            When I was a child, I enjoyed the times when my mother made a cake. Those were the days when desserts were made from scratch. I sat with amazement and watched a number of distasteful single ingredients – flour, sugar, eggs, shortening, vanilla and butter – go into the porcelain mixing bowl. After a thorough blending, the batter was poured into two cake pans, and then sent to a preheated oven. Often I asked myself, “How can ingredients that taste so bad on their own taste so good when they are mixed and baked?” It didn’t make sense to my mind, but my mouth enjoyed the results every time.

            I think of this cake mix picture when Romans 8:28 come to mind. Oftentimes, we experience a number of difficult events in our lives (death of a loved one, illness, a shocking revelation, car accident, etc.). When we go through those occurrences, it can leave a bad taste in our minds and souls. To use the above picture, it’s like swallowing a cup of shortening or two raw eggs straight from the refrigerator. Done that lately?

            That’s where the grace of Romans 8:28 shows up. God has a wonderful way of taking the distasteful tings of our past and producing something sweet in return. In his love, he can take those unpleasant events, mix them with the milk of his mercy, and then slide them into the heat of his sovereign pleasure. Before you know it, something wonderful comes out that’s good and delicious. That’s what grace does in God’s plan.

            How many bitter events from your past do you taste today? There’s a better way! See them as ingredients to a sweeter tomorrow. He can take the worse things in your life and make them good in his plan. God has the best dessert menu around. Try it!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016



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

             Paul wrote these words when he was in the middle of a trying period in his life. He was under house arrest in Rome (Acts 28:11-31), sent there because of his testimony for Christ and the proclamation of the gospel. While alone in a rented house, he was guarded by a soldier (28:16), yet able to receive visitors (28:30). As you follow his ministry, you can see how these extended periods of loneliness enabled him to do more things effectively for the Kingdom of God while “in chains” (Philippians 1:13:14). Not only did he preach and teach the Scriptures to all who would hear him in Rome, but also he penned a number of significant letters to churches he had previously established. One of those churches was in Philippi.

            How could a man in chains, living under house arrest with little idea of his future tell people not to become anxious about anything? What could enable him to say, “Rejoice…always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4). The answer came from his awareness of who’s in control of his life. For Paul, he knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that Jesus was in charge of all the affairs in his life. The Lord had a perfect plan for the apostle’s life. And Paul trusted and rested in that perfect arrangement.

            God wants to produce his peace that surpasses all understanding in us. He wants us to have a quiet confidence in his faithfulness and sovereignty to work out all things for his glory and for our good. But peace like this doesn’t come automatically. It comes through “prayer and supplication with thanksgiving”. Are you ready to do this?

Monday, November 14, 2016



Psalm 100:3               
Know that (E)the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Psalm 23:2a               
He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.

             Frequently, the Bible uses farming settings and actions to present spiritual truths clearly and powerfully. Stories and analogies using sheep (Isaiah 53:6; John 10:1-16, Luke 15:4-7, Ezekiel 34), vineyards (John 15:1-5, Jeremiah 12:10, Matthew 20:1), see (Mark 4:3-34, Luke 8:11, Isaiah 55:10-12) and the harvest (Matthew 9:38, John 4:35, Galatians 6:7) were intended to connect the recipients’ agricultural understanding with the spiritual realities of God’s Kingdom. As hearers and readers pondered these parables, prophetic pictures and spiritual analogies, they could evaluate their spiritual condition in relationship to the truth of the story.

            Regularly God uses a pasture setting in his Word to remind his people that we’re a part of his family. We belong to him and he belongs to us. As our shepherd, he offers us a rich feat of spiritual food and water because of our relationship to him. Jesus said that those who enter through him would find the pastureland of the Father (John 10:9). In this special relationship, there’s protection, security, nourishment and shelter.

            There’s incredible food and safety waiting for us in the Father’s kingdom. In the shadow of his care, we have the opportunity to feast while he lovingly guards us. Bring him your hurts, scars and pains. Let him soothe the wounds of your past with the balm of his tenderness. Let him lead you to his quiet brooks where you can rest from life’s relentless pressure. The Lord Jesus is standing at the gate of God’s pasture calling you to come home. His sheep hear his voice (John 10:27). Why are you waiting? Run to Him.

Sunday, November 13, 2016



Hebrews 12:2             
Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
            Jesus’ passion and sacrifice provide God’s perseverance to us. Because he endured Golgotha’s pain, agony and grief, the Father will never leave us. Why? Because he has so much invested in us! After all, since the Son’s life is poured in us as a deposit of his grace, the Father will develop that life to its completion until the Day of Redemption (Ephesians 1:14, Philippians 1:6). Every day we display the mark of God’s investment by the seal of his Spirit (Ephesians 1:13, 4:30). Because of this mark, we live by the Spirit’s power and are kept in the Father’s strong hand (John 10:28-29). Nothing can keep us from God’s love (Romans 8:39).

We’re marked, held, developed and shielded by the Father’s power. He wants to mature and to develop his investment in our lives. The Son’s accomplishment enables him to invest his great riches of redemption into our spiritual chambers. And right now, he’s persevering with us so that this spiritual treasury will reach its destined maturity. God’s investments always appreciate.

When you go through times of discouragement and loneliness, remember God’s persevering power. He wouldn’t leave if he wanted to leave us. Why? Because he’s an enduring investor. Think, if someone entrusted you with a box of rare jewels, large bills and priceless coins, would you leave it unattended? No. There’s too much at stake. In a similar yet greater way, God has something valuable in us. He’s watching his incomparable riches within us (Ephesians 2:7, 3:8) with dogged determinism. He’ll stick it out because he wants to collect the interest of his investments on us at the final payday!

Saturday, November 12, 2016



Isaiah 14:24        
The Lord of hosts has sworn: “As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand.

             There are times in the Bible where God declares his purposes and plans in the form of an oath. To fulfill these promises, he obligates himself by using the testimony and character of his own name as the standard and seal of authority.

            Sometimes we lose the significance of oaths and covenants in our day of broken contracts and compromised settlements. It’s hard to trust anyone because of sinful deceits and motivations. But there’s one thing you can trust. You can bank on the promises and purposes of God in light of his pledge to himself. He swears to fulfill them by His own character. And there’s nothing greater than this.

            Think of the integrity behind God’s plans toward us. A passage like Jeremiah 29:11-13 serves a s a good example, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” From this context, God’s people in captivity learned of the Lord’s great hope and bright plans for them. And behind these plans was his great purpose – a fulfilling personal relationship. But what gave God the right to guarantee this promise? What enabled him to ensure this oath? It was his pledge of personal integrity. His commitment to his own honor guarantees the fulfillment of his promises to us.

            Just think – all the promises that God gives in his Word to help and to restore us with hope are backed by his integrity and sworn testimony. If he promises it, it will come to pass! Why? The honor of his name is at stake when he makes it! That’s powerful.

Friday, November 11, 2016



2 Peter 3:9     
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count  slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

             This verse has been misunderstood and misused so often that Christians have failed to claim it as a divine promise for themselves. Frequently, Bible teachers have falsely interpreted this passage to show that God is patient with everyone in the world to the extent that he’s delaying his end-of-the-times activities in order to give more unconverted heathen an opportunity to repent and to believe. Somehow this idea has crept into the minds of believers and produced an idea about God that’s not true.

            Remember that the apostle addressed this epistle to “those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours” (1:1). This letter was written to stimulate believers’ thinking to recognize false teachers and prophets who would lead people astray in the last days (2:1-3:2). These scoffers mock the Lord’s promises with cynicism and scorn (3:3-5). Because of their actions, Christians were encouraged to remember God’s power and precious promises (1:3-4) so that they would prepare for Christ’s coming with all godliness.

            With this as the proper context, Peter tells them in 3:9 that God is not slow in keeping his promises. He has his own timetable. His use of time is totally different than ours (3:8) to show us his patience. But notice the recipients of this patience. It says he “is patient toward you”. In other words, God is patient with believers, not wanting any of them to perish, but for all of them to come to Christ in God’s time. This verse was originally given to comfort Christians about God’s ways in salvation, not to the heathen. Meditate on this glorious thought: God is incredibly patient with us! He hasn’t forgotten his salvation promises to us or to any of his elect! We’re secure in him!. That’s comfort!

Thursday, November 10, 2016



John 4:23       
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him

Luke 19:10      
For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.

             When you seek something, you pursue it with all your heart. Many people call this a passion. It’s a relentless conviction and burning obsession to follow something that an individual deems worthy and valuable. You see passion in many areas of life. Sports fans follow their teams often dressed in unusual outfits with bodies and faces plastered in wild colors. Musical instrumentalists and vocalists stir up our heart when they play or sing a number with confidence, boldness and power. Passion drives us to go beyond the limits in search of things we value greatly.

            Did you know that God has passions too? When you study the Bible and see his heart and activity, you discover that there are two things that he seeks in this world with passion. According to the title verses above, they are worshipers and the spiritually lost. Check me out on this, but those are the only groups of people that God actually seeks in this world. In his heart, worship and evangelism are at the center of his mission.

            What passions occupy our lives today? Is worship high on the list? Is there regular time set aside to come to God in personal thanksgiving, prayer and adoration? If so, God is seeking you. Come to him right now in a spirit of reverence and he’ll draw near to you. If you need strength for your day, spend some time in personal worship.

            Are you concerned for the spiritually lost people around you? God is not only concerned about them, but also pursuing them too. Are you praying for and pursuing them? When was the last time you talked to someone about Christ and the gospel?

Wednesday, November 9, 2016



Psalm 147:10-11       
His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the legs of a man, but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.
            Observe any responsible loving parent in action and you’ll discover that they love to watch the activities of their children, especially the ones in which they excel. Whether its music, drama, academic studies, sports, art or a host of other things, something special happens within them when they see their children doing the things they were designed to do. Words simply can’t explain the satisfaction that’s felt and enjoyed.

            God created us to bring him pleasure and enjoyment. We’re the pinnacles of his cosmic masterpiece! The Bible says he created us a little lower than the angels and crowned us with glory and honor (Psalm 8:5). We’re designed to bring him enjoyment.

            What gives God the most pleasure and delight? What are the things that bring the most joy to his heart? When we see them, it helps us understand the things he values.

            In the title verse, the Psalmist says the Lord takes pleasure in those who approach him with reverence, faith and worship, not with human ability or strength. He doesn’t appreciate rote ceremonial practices or human traditions (Psalm 51:16, Isaiah 1:11) nor does he enjoy the actions and death of the wicked (Ezekiel 18:23, 33:11). Instead, he takes great delight in seeing the humble of heart and their desire to please him. Perhaps no other verse explains this truth better than 2 Chronicles 16:9, “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.”

            Remember this truth when you’re going through a time of discouragement and solitude. The Lord wants to strengthen you. He wants to take pleasure in you. Stay humble in spirit and make him the central passion of your heart. That will lift your day.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016



Isaiah 55:6-8              
Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
            Isaiah 55 portrays a rich invitation to return to the Lord in our times of emptiness, brokenness and spiritual poverty. Look at the many times the word “come” is mentioned at the beginning of this chapter. God invites us to draw near to him so that we can feel his grace and experience the welcoming power of his redemptive pardon.

            Every time I read the opening verses of this magnificent passage, the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-22) comes to my mind. In this story, the younger son demanded and received the allotted portion of his father’s inheritance early and went away to another country to party foolishly on things that didn’t last. The stupidity of his decisions sent him to a pigpen coated with slime. Coming to his senses, he realized that he could return to better conditions in his father’s house as a servant than his current setup. So he swallowed his pride and backpacked home, not knowing what awaited him.

            When his father saw him in the distance returning, he did something that was culturally unthinkable. Luke 15:20 says that “his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.” In Jewish culture, men never went out to greet incoming travelers, especially a rebellious, returning son. A man would have waited for the party to come to his house. But in this story, Jesus portrays God the Father as one who is filled with deep compassion and pardoning grace for his wayward son. He knows his son has failed and fallen. Yet he waits for his return. And when he comes back, he forgives and pardons by throwing a lavish celebration. That’s what God offers today in Isaiah 55. His pardon is great. And he asks us to come.

Monday, November 7, 2016



Romans 3:25-26        
Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

            The greatest cure for a discouraged heart is found in the substitutionary death of Christ upon the accursed Cross. From there believers learn the value of propitiation, a rich word and doctrine found four times in the New Testament (Romans 3:25, Hebrews 2:17, 1 John 2:2, 4:10). At its most basic meaning, Christ’s “sacrifice of atonement” (NIV) means that when the Father looks upon the Son’s suffering, agony, bloodshed and death, his holy and uncompromising requirements for justice against sin are satisfied. Christ not only fulfills God’s requirements for justice. He satisfies them. Now that the work of atonement is complete, the Father’s terrible wrath and displeasure toward our sin is removed. We receive peace and eternal life with God as elected, adopted children. We’re no longer viewed with unquenching distaste and holy fury. The blood and righteousness of Christ covers us and makes us acceptable and beloved in God’s sight.

            Professor Reymond offers a helpful insight, “When we look at Calvary and behold the Savior dying for us, we should see in his death not first our salvation but our damnation being borne and carried away by him.” (Robert L Reymond, A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith, Thomas Nelson, 1998, p. 639)

Propitiation shows us the unconditional love of God in its greatest and deepest dimensions. We’re not simply loved by the Father as a consequence of Christ’s death. Propitiation is forward-looking in its perspective. The Father loved us so much that in his holy actions toward rebellious sinners, he acted with initiating love by giving up his willing Son to suffer and to receive what we truly deserved. And in this act, we’re cleansed, covered and made complete. What amazing love God has for us! In Christ, his justice and love toward us is satisfied!

Sunday, November 6, 2016



Habakkuk 1:13           
You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong.

             Habakkuk is an interesting prophet, quite different than the other prophets in his day. He served during a time when he perceived paradoxes in God’s activity. In the later half of the sixth century BC, chaos abounded everywhere in Judah and people disobeyed the law (Habakkuk 1:4) because they knew that the Babylonian Army was coming to invade and conquer. Wrong was right. Justice didn’t exist and a careless complacency mixed with fear epitomized the spirit of the day. Habakkuk looked at this and criticized God. “Lord, how long?” (1:2) and “Why” (1:3, 13b) were regular questions in his prayer repertoire. You could retitle the first chapter of his prophecy, “The Confessions of a Critic”. He couldn’t understand God’s actions. “Why do you tolerate the wicked?” and “Why are you so silent?” rolled over in his mind on a daily basis.

            Do you feel like that today? “God, how long?” and “Lord, why do you permit this?” are often the questions that reveal the confusion and pain of our spirit. Somehow in our minds we think God owes us an explanation for his activities. And when we ask him to explain these issues as they relate to the events of our lives, we receive a silent balk.

            Habakkuk quickly learned that God has his own reasons for doing what he does. Chapter 2 records some of those purposes. In the midst of confusion, God wants us to learn some important lessons. And one of the most profound is that he is a holy God (2:20), pure in purpose and in wisdom. He has reasons for his actions and in his time they will become clear. In the meantime, our job is to trust him and to show patience. Read the book of Habakkuk today. You may be a critic that’s ready for a turnaround!

Saturday, November 5, 2016



Psalm 19:1-2              
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.

Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our own little world that we need to stop, take a step back, walk through the rose garden and breathe. Look at our beautiful world. Behind it all is God! He created it so that we would enjoy him and find satisfaction in the beauty of his handiwork. With this in mind, if today is a pretty day, take a walk! Play a sport, work in your garden (my choice) or just sit in a lawn chair and soak up the sun for a few minutes. All this is for our enjoyment as a part of our heavenly Father’s creation.

When we’re discouraged and broken, sometimes it’s hard to break old habits and to do something new that will breathe new inspiration into our spirits. Oftentimes we find ourselves in a rut repeating the same mundane things over and over again. When this happens, our spirit spirals down into deep discouragement. We lack motivation to do new and different things and our familiarity with the “same old same old” pushes us to sink deeper into our shell and to breathe complacency’s stale air. What we need in those times is not a retreat inward; rather, what we need is a step outward. David understood that the key to spiritual refreshment and hope was looking at God’s created world. There’s so much to see no matter what season of the year you choose to look!

Remember in your times of discouragement and loneliness the wonder of God’s creation. It’s proclaiming something powerful to us! In effect, God wants to say to us when we’re down and defeated, “Hello, disheartened believer! I’m here! Look all around you! You’re not alone! I see you! Come and enjoy my handiwork. You need a breath of fresh air. Let’s go for a long walk and talk. It’s nice our here.”

Friday, November 4, 2016



2 Corinthians 4:7-9                
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; stuck down, but not destroyed…

           Next to the Lord Jesus, perhaps no one endured more trial and trouble in the first century than the apostle Paul. Think of all the things that happened to him. He was shipwrecked (Acts 27:13-44), beaten (Acts 21:32), rejected (Acts 13:50), taunted (Acts 19:28-31), imprisoned (Acts 24:27; 28:11-31), mocked (Acts 17:32) and made a target for assassination (Acts 23:12). Let him describe his dilemma in 2 Corinthians 11:23b-27,

I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.

            As we can see, hardship, persecution and crisis characterized his life. In his day as well as in ours, professing the name of Christ is not a glamorous position. Often it results in conflict, isolation and repeated heartache.

            What’s pressing you today? Are you suffering from poor health? Is your spirit wounded from someone’s biting tongue? Has someone betrayed or abandoned you? Take comfort in Paul’s words. Remember, you may be down, but not out; staggered but not defeated. Let Jesus’ sustaining power supply your spirit with resolve to keep going.

Thursday, November 3, 2016



Isaiah 43:2-3a            
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

             Water and fire are important spiritual symbols in Israel’s history, When Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, they crossed the Red Sea basin on dry ground as the river waters towered on both sides of their traveling corridor (Exodus 14:22). When Daniel and his colleagues plunged into Nebuchadnezzar’s fiery furnace, a fourth person like “a son of the gods” walked with them in the intense oven, causing the king to leap in amazement and to acknowledge that Daniel’s God had rescued him and his friends from certain death (Daniel 3:19-29). In times of intense crisis when God’s servants encountered great difficulty, the Lord overshadowed them with his preserving and guiding presence. As they obeyed, he went ahead of them and worked within them.

            It’s not an issue of “if” you will pass through rivers of difficulty or fires of crisis. It’s a question of when. So often God engineers these dilemmas to give him an opportunity to breakthrough into our lives with life-changing power! Let’s admit it – so often when everything is going fine, we get absorbed into our own world and forget the Lord and his consuming presence (Hebrews 12:29).  We take God’s blessings for granted and soon become lax in our gratitude. So to quicken us, the Lord turns up the temperature in the furnace.

            I’m not saying that your current trial was engineered by God’s initiative. Sometimes our sin, ignorance, stupidity and hardheartedness causes us to make bad decisions. But one thing is for certain. If you’re going through a time of difficulty, God wants to be with you. All you have to do is ask him to walk with you and he will.


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