Tuesday, February 28, 2017



1 John 2:15-17    Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world--the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does--comes not from the Father but from the world.  The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.

            The last reason given by John for not loving the world is that if we love the world, it means we do not truly understand this great gospel of salvation. ‘The world passeth away,’ says John, ‘and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.’ What he means is this: if you still love the world and the things that are in it, then it is clear that you have never understood the principles of sin. Cannot you see that all that belongs to the world is passing away? All these things, says John, are disappearing, they are dying, You may be proud of your personal appearance, but you will soon be old and haggard. You will be dying, and then you will have nothing to boast of, it is all passing. Oh fool, to glory in something that is so transient! Wealth, riches, learning, knowledge, social status and all these things, they are vanishing, they have the seeds of death in them. Christian people, how can we glory in things like that? It means we are blind to our own gospel which starts by telling us that all that is under the wrath of God and will be destroyed. It is all going to perdition and eternal destruction; so those who live for these things, therefore, are utterly inconsistent and show that they have never understood that if they belong to that realm they will be destroyed to all eternity. They must come out of and escape from it, and they should glory in the fact that there is a new life and realm, a new kingdom, and if they belong to this, they will abide forever.

‘So,’ says the Apostle, ‘that is my injunction to you; realize these truths; do the will of God; do not be concerned about your own desires; Do the will of God, and if you do that, you will abide for ever. You will be building up a firm foundation, a building which will be tried and tested as by fire, but because it consists of god and precious metals and not of wood, hay and stubble, it will last and it will stand the test. And when you arrive in glory, your works will follow you and you will rest in eternal joy from your labors.’

Life In Christ: Studies in 1 John, By Martyn Lloyd-Jones, pg. 221-222.

Monday, February 27, 2017



Romans 3:21-24    But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished--he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

            How does God create a community of saints out of sinful men and women? How can he avert the reproach of unrighteousness if he makes a covenant with sinners? How can the sinner become righteous without impairing the righteousness of God? The answer is that God justifies himself by appearing as his own advocate in defense of his own righteousness. And it is in the cross of Christ that this supreme miracle happens. It is necessary for the sinner to be parted from his sin and still live before God. But so closely is his life identified with sin that the only way in which that can be achieved is by dying. That is to say, the only way for God to maintain his righteousness is by putting the sinner to death. The problem is, how can the sinner live, and be holy before God?
            This problem is solved by God himself becoming man, taking upon him our flesh in his Son Jesus Christ, and in his body bearing our flesh to the death of the cross. In other words, by putting his own Son, the bearer of our flesh, to death, he puts to death flesh on earth. Now it is revealed that none is good, save God alone and that none is righteous but he. Thus God has given terrible proof of his own righteousness. In order that he alone might be righteous, it was necessary for God to deliver the whole human race to death on the cross in judgment of his wrath.

            Thus the only way we can be righteous in the sight of God is by recognizing that he only is righteous, and we ourselves sinners in the totality of our being. 

The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1963.

Sunday, February 26, 2017



John 21:3-6    Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, "Friends, haven't you any fish?" "No," they answered. He said, "Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some."

The post-resurrection accounts of Jesus are hardly a spiritualized set of epiphanies, ghost stories, as it were, séances with dim visions into the future or the past. They are told in the most tangible, fleshly fashion possible. They are told around food and drink... They are told to remind us that this other side is tangible and real, not a ghostly metaphor but something that lives in living people here and now, and that you do not have to die to know the resurrected life.

            “Children, have you any fish?” “Have you satisfaction, have you pleasure, have you success? Have you achieved what it is you spend so much time doing?” You and I know that the answer to that has to be, “No”. Then what is the response to that? “Try the other side”. Cast your net in some other area, in some other place. Try something else, something new, something different, try responding to the invitation that Jesus Christ gives us. For so many of us, living consists of maintaining unfulfilled lives, doing what we do because we cannot imagine doing anything else. When Jesus says to try the other side, he is offering new life to those of us who are trapped in making a living and not in making a life. He is offering the possibilities of freedom, freedom from our routine and the captivity of what we’ve always done, and freedom for a new and abundant life that is full to overflowing.

            What happens to our fishermen on the other side? They are transformed; and you and I are the result of their transformation. They’re not made over instantly, abracadabra, but they grow in awareness of self and of Christ. They develop, they become rehabilitated witnesses of the risen Christ in a fallen world. Peter who denies and lies becomes his preacher, his martyr, his prophet. The rest of them go on not simply to glory but to witnessing Christ in the world. They become the community of the faithful whose heirs you and I are. They live fully before they die gloriously.

Sermons: Biblical Wisdom for Daily Living by Peter J. Gomes, pgs.84-85.

Saturday, February 25, 2017



Romans 1:16-17    I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last…

Were it not for the resurrection, we would have no choice but to preach Jesus as example, law, or obligation. But, there is no good news in that! The demand to be like Jesus or to do what he says is only the intensification of the law. Where people cease to believe the resurrection or else treat it as a miracle of the past, they also tend to preach Jesus within the context of works righteousness. Therefore, instead of being a gift of God’s wondrous love, Jesus becomes another Moses who makes impossible demands on top of the ones we already have. Such a message cannot reveal the righteousness of God which was disclosed in Christ. For the righteousness of God disclosed in Christ features a God who acts on behalf of persons who fail to measure up to the law. The distinction of the gospel is that it offers salvation precisely to those who fail to measure up to the standards of the law…. Therefore, wherever the message of the gospel is proclaimed, the living Lord makes happen again what happened originally. Now we can understand how Paul can say that the gospel is not simply a piece of information about the past, nor is it simply a piece of doctrine about God’s power. It is rather the means, the instrument, by which God’s power is revealed for those who believe.
               To summarize: The gospel is not a report about God’s power but an event in which God’s power becomes operative when it is believed. This is because in the preaching and believing of the gospel, God’s righteousness is not God’s fairness by which God gives everyone what is deserved, but God’s act of setting things right precisely where no one deserves it. For in the gospel a revelation of God’s true character happens, a character set forth in the event called Jesus Christ…. Moreover, I repeat, there can be no Christian conversion without the gospel. Christian conversion doesn’t happen by simply talking about it… Christian conversion happens when the gospel is communicated and when there is response to it. It is only the person who trusts God as the gospel presents God who experiences Christian conversion.

The Mystery and Meaning of Christian Conversion, by George E. Morris, pgs. 75-77.

Friday, February 24, 2017



Romans 8:3-4    For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.

            But the riddle of human nature was still unsolved. With the loss of the God-like nature God had given him, man had forfeited the destiny of his being, which was to be like God. In short, man had ceased to be man. He must live without the ability to live. Herein lies the paradox of human nature and the source of all our woe. Since that day, the sons of Adam in their pride have striven to recover the divine image by their own efforts. The more serious and devoted their attempt to regain the lost image and the more proud and convincing their apparent success the greater their contradiction to God. Their misshapen form, modeled after the god they have invented for themselves, grows more and more like the image of Satan, though they are unaware of it. The divine image, which God in his grace had given to man, is lost forever on this earth.

            But God does not neglect his lost creature. He plans to re-create his image in man, to recover his first delight in his handiwork. He is seeking in it his own image so that he may love it. But there is only one way to achieve this purpose and that is for God, out of sheer mercy, to assume the image and form of fallen man. As man can no longer be like the image of God, God must become like the image of man. But this restoration of the divine image concerns not just a part, but the whole of human nature. It is not enough for man simply to recover right ideas about God, or to obey his will in the isolated actions of his life. No, man must be re-fashioned as a living whole in the image of God. His whole form, body, soul and spirit, must once more bear that image on earth. Such is God’s purpose and destiny for man.

The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, pg. 338.

Thursday, February 23, 2017



 Matthew 5:17-18 "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 

            Christ said that only he who wills to do the will of the Father in heaven will know whether his teaching is from God. Understand, only he who does the will, who is in earnest about it, who stakes his life on it. God is known only by those who venture, just as all great things in life are seen only when we are obedient and downright serious about them and not when we look at them from the easy chair of speculation and noncommittal curiosity. And something more: don’t think you will get by with a little philosophy like ‘do right and fear no man’. Your talisman doesn’t trouble you at this point at all; it’s far from exercising even a bit of moral control over you. But with Christ the first thing you will be shown is that never in a thousand years will you be able to stand up before God.

At first Christ is always very disturbing. You are dealing with the God who leads men into hell and out again. You are a nice, easygoing worldling (you don’t mind my saying this straight out?) and you have settled down comfortably in your world-view. You are really convinced that you have not settled down in hell. But if you are in earnest with Christ, you will have to give up your comfort and peace of mind, not because you are supposed to become a nervous worrier, but because it is a false, delusive peace, which you keep propping up with the power of suggestion and your little magic devices. But God loves the brokenhearted and the poor in spirit who have no illusions about their won wretchedness as they stand before the face of God. As long as you have not met God as one who opposes you, you haven’t met him at all…You have already gained a great deal in at least coming to the point where you realize that these things you are waking and standing on are only tottering makeshifts and that beneath you lies an abyss.

            The thing in this conversation which seems to me to be important for the understanding of our texts is this: that at the very beginning and as a kind of introduction to discipleship, Christ makes us feel the implacable severity of the law and thus leads us to death.

Life Can Begin Again by Helmut Thielicke, Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1963, pg.39.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017



Ephesians 6:10-18        Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.

            An army that goes to war makes elaborate preparations. They begin by gathering all the resources and people they will need. In gathering resources, the army determines its own weaknesses. Preparations and strategies are put in place to maximize their strengths and shore up their deficiencies. Every soldier is given a specific duty and equipped for their role. The enemy themselves are studied. What is their strengths, weaknesses and resources. Where is the enemy located, what are their strategies and plans. When the army is ready they move forward into the enemies territory. You can only defeat an enemy when their territory is overrun and occupied. The army takes the offensive. Each individual involved in battle is fighting for their life. This requires determination, watchfulness and diligence on the part of every combatant.

            The Christian, too, is in a war. They battle against principalities and powers in the physical and spiritual realms. Preparation begins by gathering the resources God has provided. The Scriptures are studied and applied to each soldier. Roles are assigned to each Christian according to God’s gifting of them. Prayer, Bible study and Christian counsel are used to prepare and equip each person for personal engagement with the enemy. Inventories of strengths and weaknesses in each person’s life are reviewed. Spiritual leaders direct the army of believers assigned to him. Goals and plans are assigned according to each person’s area of life responsibility. Each person is fitted with the full armor of God: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit.

Prayer:     Lead us our great Jehovah. Cradle us in your arms as we do battle against our foes. Empower our weaponry in order to destroy the strongholds of Satan. Allow us to see victory in the lives of those who were once lost, but who are now found in Christ.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017



1Timothy 1:15-16 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.

            When Christ is presented to lost men in the proclamation of the gospel, it is as Saviour he is presented, as one who ever continues to be the embodiment of the salvation he has once for all accomplished. It is not the possibility of salvation that is offered to lost men but the Saviour himself and therefore salvation full and perfect. There is no imperfection in the salvation offered and there is no restriction to its overture – it is full, free, and unrestricted. And this is the warrant of faith.

            The faith of which we are now speaking is not the belief that we have been saved but trust in Christ in order that we may be saved. And it is of paramount concern to know that Christ is presented to all without distinction to the end that they may entrust themselves to him for salvation. The gospel offer is not restricted to the elect or even to those for whom Christ died. And the warrant of faith is not the conviction that we are elect or that we are among those for whom, strictly speaking, Christ died but the fact that Christ, in the glory of his person, in the perfection of his finished work, and in the efficacy of his exalted activity as King and Saviour, is presented to us in the full, free, and unrestricted overture of the gospel. It is not as persons convinced of our election nor as persons convinced that we are the special objects of God’s love that we commit ourselves to him but as lost sinners. We entrust ourselves to him not because we believe we have been saved but as lost sinners in order that we may be saved. It is to us in our lost condition that the warrant of faith is given and the warrant is not restricted or circumscribed in any way. In the warrant of faith the rich mercy of God is proffered to the lost and the promise of grace is certified by the veracity and faithfulness of God. This is the ground upon which a lost sinner may commit himself to Christ in full confidence that he will be saved. And no sinner to whom the gospel comes is excluded from the divine warrant for such confidence.

Redemption Accomplished and Applied by John Murray, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1955, pg.109.

Monday, February 20, 2017


Genesis 1:1-3 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.

            Primarily, the initial test, the characteristic of the revelation of the Bible, the first crucible, in a sense, of the Christian faith, is that it starts with God. We are silenced, we are put into the background, we are not considering man first and foremost. It is God, it all starts with Him – ‘In the beginning, God’ – and He is at the center. The very term theology should remind us of that. Theology does not mean knowledge concerning man; primarily it is knowledge of God.

            So this is of supreme importance to us as we come to consider the whole question of fellowship and walking with God and of enjoying the life of God. Most our troubles are due to our self-centeredness and concern for ourselves. The psychologists are aware of that and they have their own way of dealing with it, but they do not really meet the situation and the problem. They are only temporarily successful, because the whole time they are pandering to this self within us. No, the way to be delivered from self-centeredness is to stand in the presence of God.

            According to the Bible the initial cause of man’s ills is that, having been created in the likeness and image of God, instead of living a life in subservience to God, man, alas, suddenly exalted himself and claimed a kind of equality with God; and it is his own self-assertion that has led to all his perplexities. Is not the position in which we find ourselves the same situation as that of the people who have gone before us in all ages and at all times? We begin to see that our fallacy is to exaggerate our own twentieth century with its problems. We see we are paying too much attention to our environment and conditions, and we suddenly come back and face this ultimate, absolute truth – that we are all ultimately in the presence of God.

Life In Christ: Studies in 1 John, By Martyn Lloyd-Jones, pg. 96.

Sunday, February 19, 2017



 1 Peter 2:20-23    But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps…When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.

            The signature of Jesus: the Cross. For me the most difficult and demanding dimension of discipleship on a day-in, day-out basis is the commitment to a life of unending availability. In the early stage of my journey, in the first flush of full love, the imitation of…God the Servant, was a romantic, even intoxicating notion. [Today] being a servant is as unsentimental as duty, as steadily demanding as need. Hurting people are always there, and sometimes the power of their need, like a suction on my spirit, drains me of everything. One of my problems with Jesus is that he always seems to come at the wrong time. Small wonder that Teresa of Avila complained, “Lord, if this is the way you treat your friends, it’s no surprise you have so few.”

            In words to this effect, Jesus told his listeners, “A sign indeed you will have, but it will not be the sign of the Romans being driven into the sea, or of the sun growing dark; it will be a sign of the Servant of Yahweh to be manifested first in my life and then in my death, and after that in the lives of my disciples. Their joyous commitment to the Good News of my Father’s kingdom will issue in lives of service that will permit no doubt about the validity of my message…”

            A beautiful game plan. If indeed we lived a life in imitation of his, our witness would be irresistible. If we dared to live beyond our self-concern; if we refused to shrink from being vulnerable; if we took nothing but a compassionate attitude toward the world; if we were a counterculture to our nation’s lunatic lust for pride of place, power, and possessions; if we preferred to be faithful rather than successful, the walls of indifference to Jesus Christ would crumble. A handful of us could be ignored by society, but hundreds, thousands, millions of such servants would overwhelm the world…The call of Jesus is revolutionary. If we implemented it, we would change the world in a few months.

The Signature of Jesus, by Brennan Manning, pg. 43-45.

Saturday, February 18, 2017



Galatians 3:1-3    Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?

            If they were completely honest, many people would have to admit that God is to them an almost entirely negative force in their lives. It is not merely that He provides that “gentle voice we hear…which checks each fault,” but that His whole Nature seems to deny, to cramp and inhibit their own. Though such people would never admit it, they are living endorsements of Swinburne’s bitter lines:

Thou hast conquered, O pale Galilean,
The world has grown grey from Thy breath.

            Compared with their non-Christian contemporaries their lives seem to have less life and color, less spontaneity and less confidence. Their god surrounds them with prohibitions but he does not supply them with vitality and courage. They may live under the shadow of his hand but it makes them stunted, pale and weak. Although the thought would appear blasphemous to his devotees, such a god is quite literally a blight upon human life, and no one can be surprised that he fails to attract the loyalty of those with spirit, independence, and a keen enjoyment of the color and richness of life.

The words written above are a plan exposure of a false god, but of course the unhappy worshippers never see their bondage as clearly as that or they would break away. They are bound to their negative god by upbringing, by the traditions of a Church or party, by the manipulation of isolated texts of Scripture or by a morbid conscience. At last they actually feel that it is wrong to be themselves, wrong to be free, wrong to enjoy beauty, wrong to expand and develop. Unless they have their god’s permission they can do nothing.

Friday, February 17, 2017



Psalm 115:1     Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.

            We often question our superiors at work. I do not call them our boss at this point because you probably do not see them as your “superior”. That is the point I want to make. In our society, it is most politically correct to remind everyone that they are all created equal. Well this leads them to see bosses and others in authority without the distinction these roles do have over us.

            God is treated the same way by us at times. Who is he that we must take a second seat to him? Why should God get the praise and recognition when we succeed? Well, He is God! God is not someone who can be controlled by us. He stands above all his creation. We are the creatures he made and we are dependent on him. But God has not left the scene of His creation. God sees and hears us. Communicating with us is no problem for him. We walk each day of our lives with Him able to keep in step with us. He knows our pain and suffering, even our thoughts. Who in all the world is like Him?

            The world of unbelievers do not understand or know Him. Instead of Him, they make for themselves different gods to adore and worship. But their idols will not speak to them, nor offer encouragement or advise. The gods of man know nothing about purity, virtue and goodness. These gods merely take on the moral attributes of their creators. They are without life and cannot hear our words, sense our feelings or know our thoughts. How can they even be called by men?

Prayer:     Our Father, who is in heaven, help us to know you more completely. You are the only God who has created me and has sustained my life. Nothing produced by my hands or thought in my mind can compare to you. May you alone be glorified in my life and actions. 

Thursday, February 16, 2017



Proverbs 5:22-23     The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him; the cords of his sin hold him fast. He will die for lack of discipline, led astray by his own great folly.

            The shortest and clearest way to state the relations between sin and folly is to say that not all folly is sin, but all sin is folly. Sin is both wrong and dumb. Indeed, wherever the follies are playing, sin is the main event. Sin is the world’s most impressive example of folly.

            What is it about sin that makes it so foolish? Sin is the wrong recipe for good health; sin is the wrong gasoline to put in the tank; sin is the wrong road to take in order to get home. In other words, sin is finally futile.

            Sin is futile and therefore foolish. Georges Bernanos’s country priest remarks that Satan has involved himself in a hopeless program of swimming against the stream of the universe, of “wearing himself out in absurd, terrifying attempts to reconstruct in the opposite direction the whole work of the Creator.” Thus, while moral evil is destructive, and sometimes infuriating, it is also in some ways ludicrous.

            Sin is folly. No matter what images they choose, the Bible writers say this again and again. Sin is missing the target; sin is choosing the wrong target. Sin is wandering from the path or rebelling against someone too strong for us or neglecting a good inheritance. Above all, at its core, sin is offense against God.

            Why is it not only wrong but also foolish to offend God? God is our final good, our maker and savior, the one in whom alone our restless hearts come to rest. To rebel against God is to saw off the branch that supports us.

Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin. Cornelius Plantinga, pgs. 121-123.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017



  Mark 9:21-24    Jesus asked the boy's father, How long has he been like this? From childhood, he answered. It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.
If you can? said Jesus. Everything is possible for him who believes. Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!

            What is irrational here is the creation of faith in the faithfulness of God by the crucifixion, the betrayal of Jesus Christ, who was utterly loyal to Him. We note not only that the faith of Jesus Christ in the faithfulness of the Creator runs counter to all our rational calculations based on the assumptions that we are being cheated in life, that its promises are not redeemed, that we must count not only on broken treaties among men but also on having everything taken from us that has been given us and that we hold most dear, that we have only chance to count on, and that our chances are small. This is a greater surd: that the man who reasoned otherwise, who counted on the faithfulness of God in keeping all the promises given to life, and who was loyal to all to whom he trusted God to be loyal, should come to his shameful end, like all the rest of us; and that, in consequence of this, faith in the God of his faith should be called forth in us.

            On the basis of that faith we reason; and much that was unintelligible on the ground of faithlessness or faith in the little gods who are not trustworthy is now illumined… In that faith we seek to make decisions…knowing that the measure of faith is so meager that we are always combining denials with our affirmations of it. Yet in faith in the faithfulness of God we count on being corrected, forgiven, complemented, by the company of the faithful and by many others to whom He is faithful though they reject Him.

            To make our decisions in faith is to make them in view of the fact… that Christ is risen from the dead, and is not only the head of the church but the redeemer of the world. It is to make them in view of the fact that the world of culture – man’s achievement – exists within the world of grace – God’s Kingdom.

Christ and Culture by H. Richard Niebuhr, pg. 254.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017



1 Peter 4:19    So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.

To choose to suffer means that there is something wrong. To choose God’s will even if it means suffering is a very different thing. No healthy saint ever chooses suffering; he chooses God’s will, as Jesus did, whether it means suffering or not. No saint dare interfere with the discipline of suffering in another saint.

The saint who satisfies the heart of Jesus will make other saints strong and mature for God. The people who do us good are never those who sympathize with us, they always hinder, because sympathy enervates. No one understands a saint but the saint who is nearest to the Savior. If we accept the sympathy of a saint, the reflex feeling is – Well, God is dealing hardly with me. That is why Jesus said self-pity was of the devil (see Matt. 16:23). Be merciful to God’s reputation. It is easy to blacken God’s character because God never answers back, He never vindicates Himself. Beware of the thought that Jesus needed sympathy in His earthly life; He refused sympathy from man because He knew far too wisely that no one on earth understood what He was after. He took sympathy from His Father only, and from the angels in heaven. (Cf. Luke 15:10)

Notice God’s unutterable waste of saints, according to the judgment of the world. God plants His saints in the most useless places. We say – God intends me to be here because I am so useful. Jesus never estimated His life along the line of the greatest use. God puts His saints where they will glorify Him, and we are no judges at all of where that is.

My Utmost for His Highest, By Oswald Chambers. August 10.

Monday, February 13, 2017



 Mark 16:9-14    When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. She went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping. When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it.

            One of the curious things about the Gospel accounts of the risen Jesus is that when people who knew him before his crucifixion see him after his Resurrection, they do not recognize him. They don’t seem to be afraid; they don’t react as so many people in Jewish Scriptures do when they encounter an angel of the Lord, expecting to drop dead. They recognize Jesus as a human being, they just don’t recognize him as Jesus.

            We could come up with all kinds of theories as to why Mary Magdalene doesn’t recognize Jesus as he stands before her in the garden as told in John’s Gospel. She is obviously deeply upset, her eyes full of tears, and her imagination full of fears of death and grave-robbers. She is so single-minded in her search for the dead body of her Lord, that even a meeting with a pair of angels becomes uninteresting unless they can give her the one piece of information she wants.

            But none of these seem convincing explanations of why she doesn’t recognize Jesus. This is a woman whose whole mind is full of the man who is standing right in front of her, and yet she does not know him. The simple explanation must be the true one – that real life is something we don’t understand very well without divine aid. Jesus gives Mary the ability to see by using a word. He says her name and allows her to see who he is, and to connect the old life she used to know with the new life that now stands before her.

            Life is not natural. Life is God’s free gift. God loves us into existence. We need the reminder of the risen Lord to help us recognize God’s life when it appears in our own lives. The Lord’s voice calls us by name, so that, like Mary Magdalene, we suddenly look up and recognize the Lord of life standing in front of us. Our life is then profoundly changed by the resurrected life of our Lord. Like Mary Magdalene, we are told by Jesus to go tell others what we have experienced and know as fact that the transforming love of God is made visible in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Easter, By Prior Aelred, The Abbey Newsletter.

Sunday, February 12, 2017


1 John 5:9-10       We accept man's testimony, but God's testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart.
The court room was disturbingly silent. The jurors leaned forward in anticipation. The courtroom observers sat with their eyes fixed straight ahead. The attorneys and judge sat braced, like stone pillars awaiting the earthquake. The witness was about to give the chilling details of the crime scene. He was going to give facts that could not be discounted or disputed. He had been at the scene, hidden in the adjacent woods. He and another had seen the entire event unfold and were now ready to tell everyone the truth. The jury could not possibly dispute their eye witness claims. The end to the trial was drawing breathtakingly close.

            In our struggle to present the Gospel as witnesses of Christ, we are faced with a strange problem. First, we were not their at the scene when Christ performed his miracles. We did not know the blind man before he received his sight. The empty hands and growling bellies of the 3000 people that had followed Christ to the hillside were neither seen nor heard by us. When he was betrayed by a friend we were not reclining with him at the dinner meal. When he was lead through the streets, carrying his cross, when he was stripped, flogged and nailed to the cross we know no one who was there. We have no tangible evidence or proof for these events.

            Our second dilemma is that the written testimony available about Christ is one of millions of books available to our audiences. In our modern world truth is being presented by ways of television, radio, internet, books, magazines, etc. People are bombarded with more information for living than any people in human history’s past. Technology is threatening to strangle the very necks of humanity it was designed to bring life to. How can these dilemmas be overcome? What are we to do in presenting the truth to a lost and wandering world?

            The truth is not found in artifacts from the past nor words written by mortal men. Our witness is God himself. Through us to a dying world comes God’s expert testimony. God has placed the true testimony about Christ in our hearts. We know the truth and it has set us free. We are the witnesses whose hearts have been overwritten  by the finger of God to provide the silent, anticipating and stone pillared world new life.

Saturday, February 11, 2017



1 Peter 3:14-16   But even if you should suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Never be afraid of their threats, and never get upset. Instead, exalt Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be prepared to give a defense to everyone who asks you to explain the hope you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience.

The Kingdom’s Gospel does not put forth an alternate view of reality. Rather, it bestows meaning and dignity upon the reality that often seems meaningless and not worthy of our efforts. The Gospel is forgiveness that graciously provides an opening to a real and genuine new future. Our presentation of Jesus the Christ must always resist the “let’s pretend” syndrome – let’s pretend that our time is collapsed into the first century, or let’s pretend that Jesus is among us as a twentieth-century man. The first “let’s pretend” is a regression that denies historical responsibility for this moment; the second ‘let’s pretend’ reduces the Lord to mythological figure who is put in service to our goals and ideals. Our message is never let’s pretend; it is rather: Here is what is reported, here is the evidence for it, here are the reasons for acknowledging its truth, and here are the consequences for ourselves and the world of which we are a part.

As Scripture scholars persistently tell us, it is noteworthy that the gospel accounts are not simply biographies of Jesus. Unlike the heroic literature about the Maximum Leaders of the world, the New Testament does not present Jesus as a moral model on which our lives are to be fashioned. Especially is this apparent in the writings of Paul, where scarcely a reference to the personality and character of Jesus is to be found. The purpose of the New Testament, as of our ministries, is to assert the good news that in this Jesus, who remains emphatically distanced from us by two thousand years, God was fully present and acting on our behalf in victory over his enemies and ours. The victory was manifest in his being raised from the dead, in which event alone is the justification for calling him Lord. On that basis we assert his sovereignty over all things – a sovereignty that is now disputed but will finally, we believe, be vindicated in his coming again in glory….

Freedom For Ministry by Richard John Neuhaus, pg.28-29   

Friday, February 10, 2017



Ecclesiastes 2:24-25 A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?  

I might visit a brother who worked fourteen or even sixteen hours a day at his trade, the necessary result of which was that not only his body suffered, but his soul was lean, and he had no enjoyment of the things of God. Under such circumstances I might point out to him that he ought to work less, in order that his bodily health might not suffer, and that he might gather strength for his inner man by reading the Word of God, by meditation over it, and by prayer.
            The reply, however, I generally found to be something like this: ‘But if I work less, I do not earn enough for the support of my family. Even now, whilst I work so much, I have scarcely enough. The wages are so low that I must work hard in order to obtain what I need.’
            I might reply something like this: ‘My dear brother, it is not your work which supports your family, but the Lord; and He who has fed you and your family when you could not work at all, on account of illness, would surely provide for you and yours, if, for the sake of obtaining food for your inner man, you were to work only for so many hours a day as would allow you proper time for retirement. And is it not the case now that you begin the work of the day after having had only a few hurried moments for prayer; and when you leave off your work in the evening, and mean to read a little of the Word of God, are you not too worn out in body and mind to enjoy it, and do you not often fall asleep while reading the Scriptures or while on your knees in prayer.
            My spirit longed to be instrumental in strengthening their faith by giving them not only instances from the Word of God of His willingness and ability to help all those who rely upon Him, but to show them by proofs that He is the same in our day.
            I therefore judged myself bound to be the servant of the Church of Christ in the particular point on which I had obtained mercy: namely, in being able to take God by his Word and to rely upon it.

Spiritual Secrets of George Muller by Roger Steer, pg.14.

Thursday, February 9, 2017



Psalm 111:10    The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.

You should beware of two extremes. One is becoming arrogant about your wisdom and plans. The other is becoming depressed when things go wrong. God forgives and even blesses the mistakes of faithful people. In my ignorance, I often made the biggest mistakes and did the most foolish things when I was sincerely trying to help people and give them good advice. When I made these mistakes, I prayed fervently to God, asking him to forgive me and correct what I had done. Important and faithful leaders often cause great harm through their advice and actions. If God didn’t have mercy on them and didn’t straighten everything out, the world would be in a terrible mess.

All of us make mistakes. We consider ourselves wise and knowledgeable. Yet in our sincere desire to help, we can end up causing a lot of damage. If God in his wisdom and compassion didn’t correct our mistakes, we would make a mess out of our lives. We are like the farmer whose horse had trouble moving a heavy load. Thinking the wheels on the wagon were too wide, he sharpened them. This only make the load sink so deep into the mud that the wagon couldn’t be moved at all.

Does that mean that people should do nothing and just run away from all their responsibilities? Not at all. You should faithfully do the job that God has given you to do. Don’t rely on your own wisdom and strength, and don’t pretend to be so smart and important that everything has to be done your way. Don’t be ashamed to get on your knees and pray, “Dear God, you gave me this job. Please teach and guide me. Give me the knowledge, wisdom, and strength to perform my duties tirelessly and well.”

Faith Alone: A Daily Devotional, By Martin Luther. July 8.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017



2 Peter 1:3-4    His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

        “Entering a tavern in the Polish countryside, a Rabbi saw two peasants at a table, both gloriously in their cups. Each was protesting how much he loved the other, when Ivan said to Peter: ‘Peter, tell me what hurts me?’ Bleary-eyed, Peter looked at Ivan” ‘How do I know what hurts you?’ Ivan’s answer was swift: “If you don’t know what hurts me, how can you say you love me?’”
            And the Divine double take, of course, is that loving ourselves frees us to love others. There’s a passage in the novel The Face Beside the Fire that I have been unable to get out of my mind. Laurens Van der Post describes an insecure woman in fierce competition with her husband. To avoid revealing her vulnerability, she foregoes tenderness. ‘Slowly she is poisoning Albert [with a] poison…found in no chemist’s shop….It is a poison brewed from all the words, the delicate, tender, burning trivialities and petty endearments she’s never used.’ The love we withhold through our power struggles in marriage and in our relationships is liberated through our union with Jesus. It is a new way of living in which comparisons, contrasts, rivalries, competition and power trips are gradually left behind.
The compassionate love of Jesus at work within us is an empowering to suffer with, endure with, struggle with, partake of, be moved in the depths of our being for the hunger, nakedness, loneliness, pain, squalid choices and failed dreams of our brothers and sisters in the human family. We don’t have to join mission works in places unknown to us. The passion of Christ is being played out in our own communities, perhaps in our own homes, in anyone who is in agony of flesh or spirit. Jesus is there not in some vague, eerie way but as a real presence-for what we do for the least of our brothers and sister, we do for Him. On that Calvary next door where Christ still hangs, I will minister to my Savior and my Lord.

The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus, by Brennan Manning, pg. 145-154.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017



Luke 23:26   As they led Christ away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus.   

If we obey God it is going to cost other people more than it costs us, and that is where the sting comes in. If we are in love with our Lord, obedience does not cost us anything, it is a delight, but it costs those who do not love Him a good deal. If we obey God it will mean that other people’s plans are upset, and they will gibe us with it, “You call this Christianity?” We can prevent the suffering: but if we are going to obey God, we must not prevent it; we must let the cost be paid.

Our human pride entrenches itself on this point, and we say – I will never accept anything from anyone. We shall have to, or disobey God. We have no right to expect to be in any other relation than our Lord Himself was in (see Luke 8:2-3).

Stagnation in spiritual life comes when we say we will bear the whole thing ourselves. We cannot. We are so involved in the universal purposes of God that immediately we obey God, others are affected. Are we going to remain loyal in our obedience to God and go through the humiliation of refusing to be independent, or are we going to take the other line and say – I will not cost other people suffering? We can disobey God if we choose, and it will bring immediate relief to the situation, but we shall be a grief to our Lord. Whereas if we obey God, He will look after those who have been pressed into the consequences of our obedience. We have simply to obey and to leave all consequences with Him.

Beware of the inclination to dictate to God as to what you will allow to happen if you obey Him.

My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers, January 11.  

Monday, February 6, 2017



John 6:16-21  When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, where they got into a boat and set off across the lake… When they had rowed three or three and a half miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were terrified. But he said to them, "It is I; don't be afraid." Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.

Self-hatred is…the dominant malaise crippling Christian people and stifling their growth in the Holy Spirit….The disparity between our ideal and real self, the grim specter of past infidelities, the awareness that I’m not living what I believe, that I am not all that I ought to be, that I am not measuring up to others’ expectations of demeanor and lifestyle, the relentless pressure of conformity, the midlife oppression of what I had hoped to become and what I have actually become….transform an expectant pilgrim people into a dispirited traveling troupe of … wiped-out Willie Lomans.

            In the struggle with self-hatred, we obviously do not like what we see. It is uncomfortable, if not intolerable, to confront our true selves, and so… we either flee our own reality or manufacture a false self which is mostly admirable…and superficially happy. Defense mechanisms become useful allies here… Those of us who have played this game wear a thousand masks to disguise the face of fear.

            Henry Nouwen writes: “I wonder if fear is not our main obstacle to prayer. When we enter into the presence of God and start to sense the huge reservoir of fear in us, we want to run away into the many distractions which our busy world offers so abundantly.”

            To pray is to ‘return to ourselves’, where God dwells, and accept ownership of our sinfulness, poverty and powerlessness. Only when the prodigal son returned to himself and took inventory of his desperate plight did he begin the journey home to his father.

A Strange to Self-Hatred: A Glimpse of Jesus by Brennan Manning, pgs.75-76.  

Sunday, February 5, 2017




Psalm 23:3-4   He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

            Shepherding people is more like shepherding cats. People value independence above everything else. Yet, no one wants to end they’re life like the man who spent his whole life trying to climb the ladder of success, only to find that it was leaning against the wrong wall. It is almost never sufficient simply to announce the path to everyone one time. No, in a seemingly never-ending pattern, you have to keep sharing the path over and over… you must lead a few sheep up the trail, and then you have to go back and gather up some more. One frequent lament of leaders is that they feel like they are saying the same things over and over… And the truth is, they probably are. You feel the energy drain out of you every time you must go back down to the valley, share the message, and lead another group up the mountain. There are times when you feel you absolutely cannot make that voyage even one more time. But leading folks along the right paths is highly personal business, and there is no substitute for the shepherd leader making many trips from the mountain to the valley and back again. It is, in many ways, the most difficult element of leadership.

            Failure is a better teacher than success. Therefore, we better not rush through the valley’s troubles. While in the valley, we tend to put on blinders in order to focus on the way out at the distant end, ignoring circumstances and people in order not to be pained. We should throw away the blinders and become aware of our surroundings. Look for insights to the darkness in the valley. Be honest with others about your thoughts, hopes, frustrations and other valley experiences. Talk to others about these things. Invite others who may not be in the valley with you to come along side to walk with you. Talk with others that are in the valley with you. Through all the difficulties of valley living, find ways to develop and maintain optimism and hope. Be proactive in tackling the struggles and activities required to get through.

Shepherd Leadership: Wisdom For Leaders From Psalm 23 by Blaine McCormick & David Davenport, pgs.35-40.

Saturday, February 4, 2017



Ephesians 2:4-5          Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions --it is by grace you have been saved. 

When many first hear the distinction between religion and the gospel, they think that it just sounds too easy. “Nice deal!” they may say. “If that is Christianity, all I have to do is get a personal relationship to God and then do anything I want!” Those words, however, can only be spoken on the outside of an experience of radical grace. No one from the inside speaks like that. In fact, grace can be quite threatening.

            [A woman] …said that she had gone to church growing up and had never before heard a distinction drawn between the gospel and religion. She had always heard that God accepts us only if we are good enough. She said that the new message was scary…and she replied: “If I was saved by my good works then there would be a limit to what God could ask of me or put me through. I would be like a taxpayer with ‘rights’—I would have done my duty and now I would deserve a certain quality of life. But if I am a sinner saved by sheer grace – then there’s nothing he cannot ask of me.”

            She understood the dynamic of grace and gratitude. If when you have lost all fear of punishment you also lose all incentive to live a good, unselfish life, then the only incentive you ever had to live a decent life was fear. This woman could see immediately that the wonderful-beyond-belief teaching of salvation by sheer grace had an edge to it. She knew that if she was a sinner saved by grace, she was…more subject to the sovereign Lordship of God. She knew that if Jesus really had done all this for her, she would not be her own. She would joyfully, gratefully belong to Jesus, who provide all this for her at infinite cost to himself.

            From the outside that might sound coercive, like a grinding obligation. From the inside the motivation is all joy.

The Reason For God by Timothy Keller, pg.182-183.  

Friday, February 3, 2017



1Peter 5:8-9     Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

You should keep your mind clear and be alert. Then your body will be prepared. But the devil isn’t defeated through this alone. By keeping your mind clear and alert, you merely give your body less reason to sin. Your true sword is remaining strong and firm in the faith. If you grasp hold of God’s Word in your heart and cling to it with faith, the devil cannot win. He has to flee. If you can say, “My God has said this, and I stand upon it,” you will find that the devil will quickly leave. Then apathy, evil desire, anger, greed, despair, and doubt will soon go away. But the devil is crafty and doesn’t want to let you get to that point. He tries to snatch the sword out of your hand. If he makes you lazy so that your body becomes unfit and out of control, he can tear your sword out of your hand. This is what he did to Eve. She had God’s word. If she had clung to it, she would not have fallen. But when the devil saw that she held the word loosely, he tore it from her heart. She let it go, and the devil won (Genesis 3:4, 13; 2 Corinthians 11:3)

            Peter has instructed us on how we should fight against the devil. It doesn’t require a lot of running around or doing special kinds of works. Rather, it calls for nothing more than clinging to the Word through faith. If the devil wants to drive you to despair because of your sin, just grab the Word of God. It promises forgiveness of sins. Rely on God’s Word, and the devil will quickly leave you alone.


Faith Alone: A Daily Devotional, By Martin Luther. January 27.

Thursday, February 2, 2017



Psalm 23:1,6    The  Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Fourteenth-century theologian John Tauler prayed for eight years that God would send him a person who would teach him the true way of perfection. One day, on the church steps Tauler found a barefoot ragamuffin in rags, wounded and caked in blood.

            Tauler greeted the man cordially: “Good morning, dear brother. May God give you a good day and grant you a happy life.”

            “Sir”, replied the ragamuffin, “I do not remember ever having had a bad day.” Stunned, Tauler asked him how that was possible, since sadness and grief are part of the human condition.
             The beggar explained, “You wished me a good day, and I replied that I cannot recall ever having spent a bad day. You see, whether my stomach is full or I am famished with hunger, I praise God equally; when I am rebuffed and despised, I still thank God. My trust in God’s providence and his plan for my life is absolute, so there is no such thing as a bad day.”
             He continued, “Sir, you also wished me a happy life. I must insist that I am always happy for it would be untruthful to state otherwise. My experience of God has taught me that whatever He does must of necessity be good. Thus, everything that I receive from his loving hand or whatever He permits me to receive from the hands of others – be it prosperity or adversity, sweet or bitter – I accept with joy and see it as a sign of his favor. I have learned that the will of God is the love of God. And by the outpouring of His grace, I have so merged my will with His that whatever He wills, I will too. Therefore, I have always been happy.”
Ruthless Trust: The Ragamuffin’s Path to God, by Brennan Manning, pg. 162-3.


Wednesday, February 1, 2017



Exodus 33:18-22   
Moses said, "Now show me your glory." And the LORD said… you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live... There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by."

The Hebrew word for “glory” is “kabod”. Kabod is a rich and complex theological word with multiple shades of meaning. It refers to the weight of an object, material wealth, achieved rank, prominence, greatness and power. With such nuances of meaning we can see why it is used in describing God. The magnificence of “kabod” reaches its fulfillment in the Christian scriptures in seeing the “kabod” rest on the person of Jesus Christ.  “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his kabod, the kabod of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

The Kabod of God, leaves us alone and speechless before Him. In the silence of His passing presence in our midst, we realize our own insufficiency to live and respond to the life we created and he allows us to have. The allusion of control over life and work is shattered completely, leaving only one option – Him: on His terms, in His manner, at His hour, with His will and goal. All who beheld the Kabod of God were forever changed in their relationship to Him and their relationship to the world of people around them. “Trust” alone is the residue seen on the face of Moses, in the tone of his voice and in the quickness of his steps that led the God’s people.

            “But the reality of kabod shatters every delusion… The glory of God makes possible the…act of religion: the realization that we are not sufficient unto ourselves, that we have received our life and being from another. In a decision that reaches the roots of our most intimate self and demands the renunciation of belonging to that self, we freely ratify our condition as creatures. Through this fundamental act of dispossession we acknowledge the illusion of control and open ourselves to the reality of God.”

Ruthless Trust by Brennan Manning, pg.64.  

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